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Full text of "Esquire's 2nd sports reader"

UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/esquires2ndsport00unse 



Esquire's Second Sports Reader 



ESQUIRE'S 

2nd 

Sports 



Re 



Edited and with an Introducfion by 
ARNOLD GINGRICH 






NEW YORK 
A. S. BARNES & COMPANY 



COPYRIGHT, 1946, BY ESQUIRE, INC. 

This book is fully frotected by copyright 
and nothing that appears in it may be re- 
printed or reproduced in any manner, either 
"wholly or in part, for any use whatever, 
including radio presentation, without special 
written permission of the copyright owner. 

^a^. S 



f'79 



PRTliTTED IX THK V. S. A. 



Contents 

PAGE 

Introduction, Arnold Gingrich .....,•,. . vii 

The Careless Hunter, Homer James . 1 

I Won't Do No Dive, Harry Sylvester 4 

The Hearse of the Speedway, Peter Granger 13 

The Horns of the Bull, Ernest Hemingway 23 

Send Me In, Coach, F. Scott Fitzgerald 34 

Grandstand Complex, Horace McCoy 45 

The Lord's Day, Charles Grayson 56 

The Come-back, L. A. G. Strong 6T 

The Girl at Thorps, Warren Gibson 77 

Cocks Must Figpit, Theodore Pratt 88 

The Battle Royal, Lewis Herman 96 

A Pitcher Grows Tired, Ashley Buck 105 

Everything in the Fifth, Maxence van der Meersch . . . 110 

My Life with a Stuffed Sailfish, Robert Warner . . . 119 

The Rumbold 500, Maxence van der Meersch 123 

The Parmachene Belle, Edw. L. Peterson 130 

Up Queer Street, Len Zinberg 136 

Homecoming at State, Herb Graffis 144 * 

The Eighty- Yard Run, Irwin Shaw . . 153 

The Old Battler, Harry Bolton 167 

1^: Apprentice of Manly' Art, Morton Thompson 173 

V^ The Football Story, E. A. Durand 180 

Portrait of a Worm Fisherman, Lynn Montross .... 190 

A Game of Jiggery Poker, Robert Westerby 199 

S 
I 



yi Contents 

fAGi 

The Melee os* the Mages, Paul Gallicd » » • *, , * 206 

A Pair of Vikings, Conrad Aiken 223 

The Fixed Grin, Robert Kinney 236 

Daughter of Danny the Red, Roderick Lull 245 

The Legless Bullfighter, Marcos A. Spinelli 259 

Money on Morgan, Robert Westerby 269 

After the Altitude Record, Lion Feuchtwanger .... 275 

There Must Be a Losing Coach, Sam W. Taylor . . . . 279^ 

Sparring Partner, Carl Ries 289 

Murder at the Thirteenth Hole, Wallace Irwin .... 300 -• 

Ill-Fated Cruise of the Canarsie III, Louis Paul . . . 309 

The Battle of Blue Trout Basin, Nelson S. Bond . . . 316 

Fielder's Choice, Edw. L. McKenna 319 ^ 

The Atavism of Ralph Piscatore, Robert J. Kuhn . . „ 323 

Beware the Tremper Buck, Edmund Gilligan 330 

GiGUE FOR Hunting Horns, Reed Johnston 341 

Dodie's Duck, Walter Clare Martin 347 

A Gamecock Doesn't Forget, Edw, Jerome Vogeler . . . 357 

Rose into Cauliflower, Mel Matson 367 

Joe the Great McWhiff, Kimball Mcllroy 377 

Return of a Trouble Maker, James Kieran 384 . 

The Denton Mare, Edwin Lanham 387 

The Champeen of the World, Edw. L. McKenna .... 392 

The Red Shuffler Stays In, Paul Annixter 400 

The Monarch's Last Tanto, Robert Sylvester .... 409 

On Account of Darkness, Albert J. Hobon 420 



Introduction 



THIS volume, although a companion to Esquire^s First Sports 
Reader, is in no sense a sequel to it. While both books are com- 
pilations of selected sports writing from the pages of the last ten 
years of Esquire, right there their resemblance ends. Whereas the 
First Sports Reader was a compendium of sports articles, this one 
is an anthology of short stories. You can say that they both deal, 
more or less directly, with sports. But as between articles and 
stories, you can go so far as to say, in echo of a Barrie character: 
"Those were only the facts; now here, instead, is the truth/' 

Sports articles, even the best of them, represent an amalgam 
of statistics, opinion, and "dope," the latter more or less inside as 
the case may be. But fiction, even at its lowest level, represents a 
distillate of the kind of items of factual knowledge that are poured 
into articles straight, with no more of a refining process than assort- 
ment, selection, and perhaps, compression. In other words, if sports 
articles are wine, then sports fiction is brandy. And while it would 
be stupid to say that the worst brandy is better than the best wine, 
it would be still more stupid to deny that it hits you harder ! 

When a Hemingway or a Gallico writes a sports piece he is 
passing on to you what he knows about this or that phase of sport, 
and presumably adding to your own store of knowledge of the 
subject in the process. Out of his head, then, into yours. But when 
he writes a story he is no longer concerned with the transmitting 
of facts, with telling you what he knows, but rather with making 
you feel. In this latter process, the heart is involved. 

That's why, human nature being what it is, a good story lives 
forever, while articles, even the best ones, have a way of dating, 
first, then dying, sooner or later. For knowledge, the stuif of 
articles, is cumulative, and the later acquisitions pile in on top 
of the earlier and sort of squash them down, into one indistinguish- 
able and accumulated blend. But emotion, the thing of which stories 
are all compact, is fortunately for our happiness and health no more 
cumulative over the years than, say, fatigue. 

Maybe, rather than worry the point any longer, we could just 
dismiss it by saying that while the function of articles is to let you 

vii 



viii Introduction 

know things, the function of stories is to make you understand 
them. 

And that in turn is probably the quickest way, short of perpe- 
trating an Irishism, to explain why Esquire's Second Sports Reader 
simply couldn't help being better than the first, even if it were 
worse ! 

But it occurs to us, perhaps belatedly, that we may be doing the 
reader a disservice with that kind of talk. Presumably you can be 
trusted to decide for yourself whether this book is any good or not, 
and the very most you want from us is to tell you, not how much 
you're going to like it, but whether or not it's the kind of book you 
like. Let's say you deserve a better break, for instance, than that 
little girl got from her juvenile book club, to which she had to send 
back their book on penguins because "while very good it tells me 
more about penguins than I care to know." 

Well, we can promise you right now, there isn't a penguin in 
this book. And another thing it's fresh out of is love. Whether that's 
refreshing is up to you to say. But these are stories by men and 
for the most part about men. When they're not about men they're 
apt to be about horses, or fish, or fighting cocks, or even bulls. And 
when they are about men they are about men in the roles of pitchers, 
sluggers, catchers, racers, or fighters and fixers, or winners and 
losers. Almost without exception they are stories of conflict, which 
is by no means the same thing as saying that they are all action 
stories, or that they are all blood-spattered. Some of them are 
hardly for either the little-girl or the maiden-aunt trade ; they are 
stories of brutality, an element that is only more or less sublimated 
in all the many fields of sport. There are others, perhaps in a sense 
no less brutal, but where the element of conflict is confined to the 
inner reaches of the mind. Still, conflict is the greatest common 
denominator of these stories. 

That they are good stories should not be surprising when it is 
remembered that they come to you via original publication in the 
pages of Esquire, As long ago as the latter years of the late Edward 
J. O'Brien, who was the Walter Camp of magazine fiction, it was 
discovered that Esquire habitually publishes more distinguished 
stories in the course of a year than any of its contemporaries. And 
every copy of such collections as the Bedside Esquire, the First 
Sports Reader, Esquire^s Football Booh and its various Jazz Boohs, 
have all acted as so many pertinacious little drops of water wearing 
away the great stone idiocy of that once-current gag whose many 



Introduction ix 

versions all pointed to the same general effect of "What ! you don't 
mean to tell me that magazine has words in it, too!" Even radio 
comedians have abandoned that line, no surer proof than which 
could possibly be adduced to attest that a joke, however feeble, is 
indeed dead. Even high-court judges, and the law is notoriously 
laggard in such matters, have recognized and recorded the truism 
that Esquire is a magazine of literary distinction. 

But by the same token, the law of averages is enough to pre- 
clude the possibility that even in a book of good stories, like this, 
more than a few can be considered really great stories. In all the 
annals of literature, great stories with a sports setting or back- 
ground have the highest scarcity value. There have been some, but 
not many. There are even a couple in this book. 

Perhaps, however, it is more sporting, and certainly it will be 
more rewarding, to find them for yourself than to have us try to set 
up any sort of signpost here to point them out. 

But here's hoping you won't miss them. And, to that end, we 
wish you good hunting! 

Arnold Gingrich 
St. SapJiorin-Lavaua:, Switzerland, 
November y 19^5 



j„ a 



SQtjiEE s Secokb Spoets Keabee 



The CareleBB Hunter 

Ly Homer James 



Armand xafleche was the kind of man who could whistle happily 
while engaged in the kind of task he now had his head bent over. 
It was a curious thing for a veteran guide to be engaged in doing, 
so that to one watching LaFleche as he worked, the nature of the 
task would have served as the measure of LaFleche's hate for George 
Martin. 

There was no one near the camp in the little clearing, however, 
and LaFleche worked without haste, carefully. He could not have 
told you very clearly why he hated George Martin, although that 
hate moved in LaFleche as his blood did. Martin was rich ; LaFleche 
was not. Martin was arrogant and LaFleche, a Latin, resented arro- 
gance. Martin was a drunk, and helpless in the woods; LaFleche 
did not like the idea of having to make his living working for a man 
he himself was so much superior to. The law of the woods was that 
the weak died and in the many years LaFleche had worked as Mar- 
tin's guide, he had often thought that it would be no more than 
appropriate that Martin should die . . . 

The previous year, when Martin had come up for his month 
of hunting, he had hired the Indian, Joe Kingfisher, as a guide, 
having become tired of LaFleche's suUenness. LaFleche had brooded 
over this for a year. Being Martin's guide meant that in addition 
to your regular pay, you received a fat tip, whatever whiskey was 
left from the case Martin insisted on bringing along, and, if Martin 
had had bad luck with one of his fine guns, he might give you that 
also. 

This year, Joe Kingfisher had been out with another hunter 
when Martin came up and so Martin had hired LaFleche again and 
had not bothered to hide his dissatisfaction with having to again 
use him as a guide. So, gradually and without any shock to any 
sensibilities he may have had, LaFleche had decided to kill the other 
man. He was engaged in that process now although Martin was 
not in sight. 

Martin, like many city hunters, was careless. His guns were 
always loaded in camp ; in the field his safety was never on. It was 

1 



2 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

this carelessness that LaFleche planned to take advantage of. To- 
day, when Martin had said that he thought he would hunt alone, 
LaFleche had let him go, a thing no good guide should ever do with 
his charge in a strange country. 

He had given Martin almost an hour, then begun to work. 
Martin had his .30-.30 with him and was after deer. He would not 
get a deer, LaFleche knew. Martin would return for lunch and after 
lunch, they would try for partridge with the shotguns. Martin 
fancied himself as a wing-shot and LaFleche knew it would be easy 
to talk him into going after birds that afternoon. Meanwhile, 
LaFleche worked on Martin's shotgun. 

It was a good gun; a .16-gauge, double-barreled, single trigger 
affair with an ejector. It was worth a little over a hundred dollars 
and LaFleche did not like to destroy it, but he knew he would get 
the rest of Martin's property, or most of it. The right barrel of 
the gun was partly choked, the left barrel had a full choke. In- 
variably, Martin had the single trigger set so that the right barrel 
would be discharged first. 

It was on the right barrel that LaFleche was working after 
having first removed the shells. With his knife, LaFleche had cut a 
plug of soft wood about three inches long and now he whittled it 
carefully until, by exerting a fair amount of pressure upon it, he 
could slip it into the right barrel of George Martin's shotgun. 
LaFleche then dirtied the end of the plug so that its whiteness would 
not reveal it and, having done this, he pushed it well into the barrel 
and out of sight. He then slowly let a few drops of water fall upon 
the plug to make it swell and fit more tightly into the barrel. 

It was, LaFleche conceded when he had finished, a fool-proof 
job. He would load it now, just as it had been, and place it on the 
rubber sheet in the cabin where Martin had left it when the pre- 
vious day's rain had halted their bird hunting. When Martin re- 
turned, LaFleche would suggest they go after partridge. When the 
first bird was flushed, Martin would pull the trigger and the right 
barrel, which LaFleche had converted into a virtual bomb, would 
explode in Martin's face, killing him instantly. 

It would appear to be an accident, of course. LaFleche would 
tell the police that he and Martin had been hunting in different 
parts of the woods and that he had come upon Martin lying dead 
on the ground. Probably, La Fleche would tell them, Martin, known 
for his carelessness, had let the muzzle of his gun rest on the ground 



The Careless Hunter 3 

and a plug of earth had slipped up it without Martin's knowing it. 
Meanwhile, LaFleche would have the liquor, the several hundred 
dollars Martin carried, and perhaps one or two of the guns, since 
no one but LaFleche knew how much equipment Martin had brought. 

It was perfect, foolproof, LaFleche knew. To make it more so, he 
would propose a drink when Martin came back and would get Mar- 
tin a little drunk before going out. That, too, would make it all the 
more plausible to the police. Rather pleased with himself, LaFleche 
broke the gun and inserted the two shells again. So absorbed had he 
been in his work that he had not noticed the silent figure that had ap- 
proached the clearing where he was working and which had been 
watching him for some time. Now, though, as he finished loading 
the gun and snapped it shut, he saw the shadow across the clearing 
and looked up, an animal snarl on his lips. Joe Kingfisher stood 
about ten yards away and from the look on the Indian's face, 
LaFleche knew he had seen too much. 

"What you been doing, LaFleche, huh.? That's Mr. Martin's 
gun." 

"What the hell do you care what I been doing.?" LaFleche said. 
"What you doing around my camp ?" 

"I come to say thanks to Mr. Martin for the knife he sent me 
from the city. I think there's something else to tell him, too." 
Joe Kingfisher began to raise his rifle, but LaFleche, with the 
shotgun in his lap, was much quicker than the Indian. "You'll never 
live to tell him!" LaFleche yelled in a blind fury. He raised the 
shotgun to his shoulder, took quick aim at Joe Kingfisher's head, 
for the shotgun could kill a man at that distance, and pulled the 
trigger. The right barrel, which Armand LaFleche had plugged so 
carefully that it was virtually a bomb, exploded in Armand La- 
Fleche's face, leaving Joe Kingfisher looking in amazement and 
horror at the almost headless body on the ground. 



/ Won't Do No Dive 
Ly Harry Sylvester 



Aii LAY flat on the bed, waiting for the phone to ring. It didn't 
ring and he tried to remember the last time it had rung and why. 
He didn't do this very long; he began to think of what might 
come in the mail. He called the desk clerk and was told that the 
afternoon mail wasnt in yet. When Al called again ten minutes 
later the clerk said there was no mail for him. 

Al sat on the bed, his face in his hands. After all, he thought, 
who the hell would write to me? He hadn't answered his father's 
last letter, saying in a roundabout way that it might be a good 
idea if Al came back to the farm. He didn't want to go back there, 
Al thought again. It was an all right place but he didn't want to 
go back there like this, broke and kind of a has-been. He wanted to 
go back there a successful prizefighter, with a string of wins, a 
light grey suit and plenty of money to buy new farm equipment 
and to scatter around, careless-like. That was the way he wanted 
to go back. 

He felt dull, sitting in the warm, poorly ventilated room, and 
his thoughts were like a weight in his head and he let himself fall 
back onto the pillow again. 

Pete Krevitz came into the room. He was a little man who, like 
most managers of prizefighters, was always hoping that somewhere 
he would stumble over a young fighter who would be the next heavy- 
weight champion. Coming into the room, Pete cursed and said 
that he'd expected Al would be out doing some road work. 

"Why should I be doing any?" Al said. "You ain't got me no 
fights lately. Anyhow, I'm in shape, all right. I can take a day off." 

"The least you could of done would be out taking a walk or 
something." 

"Why should I take a walk? I ain't got no place to go and if 
I walk I'll get hungry. I only got thirty-five cents and I'm saving 
that for supper." 

"Here's a buck," Pete Krevitz said. "I got a fight for you. 
How do you like that?" 

"That's fine," Al said, sitting up. "That's great. Who with?" 

4 



I Won't Do No Dive 5 

"This big, new guy, what's his name — Waller. Eddie Waller." 

"He's a bum," Al said. "You certainly got me a snap." 

"We're getting nine hundred for it," Pete said. He kept looking 
at Al's face, without taking his hat off or the cigar out of his mouth 
or his finger tips from the foot of the bed. 

Al whistled. "Nine C's. Say, for nine C's I'd fight the Marines." 

"They don't want you to fight the Marines." 

"What do you mean?" 

"Just that that ain't what they want you to do." 

"What do they want, then.?" 

Pete looked at Al for a few seconds. There was almost a glint 
in his small eyes. "You gotta take a dive," he said. 

Al got up and stood, straddle-legged, one hand and a finger 
pointing at Pete. "I ain't taking no dive," he said. "Not for no 
one and leastways not for a bum like Waller." 

"Don't be a damn fool," Pete said. He wasn't angry. That was 
what Al noticed and it made him uneasy. 

"I got a rep," Al said. 

"Ever try eating a rep ?" 

"I'll get by without doing no dives." 

"You ain't been getting by." 

"I'd of been all right the night I fought the boog if I wasn't 
sick. I'd of beat him and I'd be up there." 

"Maybe you would," Pete said. "But Antrim beat you down 
in Indianapolis. Anyway, the idea is you ain't up there and we 
gotta eat." 

"All right, we gotta eat, but I won't do no dive. You can always 
get dough." 

"I can't get it now or we'd be eating more regular. Nine C's 
is nine C's. You never got no more than a grand before for any- 
thing." 

"I won't do no dive," Al said. He turned and looked out the 
the window, leaning on the sill. 

"Tomorrow," Pete said, still without anger, "you'll feel dif- 
ferent when that buck is gone." He took off his hat, sat down and 
read a tabloid. 

After a while, Al said, without turning from the window : "What 
the hell does anyone want to build Waller up for.? He's a bum 
and he'll always be a bum." 

"It wouldn't be healthy to talk about it too much, so keep 



6 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

what I tell you under your bonnet. The Magrid bunch has got him. 
They're a bunch of mobsters that made so much dough shaking 
down laundries that they thought they'd buy themselves a box- 
fighter and now they're building him up." 

"They sure bought themselves a daisy," Al said. "I should 
fool around with bastards like that bunch." 

"When you ain't eating you'll do a lot of funny things," 
Pete said. "I don't like to play around with mobsters myself. But 
if we get this dough we can get to New York or out to the Coast 
or maybe pick up some change in Florida. It'll be nice down there 
for the winter." 

"I won't take no dive," Al said. 

"All right. All right. You're one holy son of a bitch, that's 
all I gotta say. I gotta tell these guys tomorrow so they'll give 
me an advance for us to eat. So you better make up your mind 
about it by then. And if you do, don't renege, or they'll fill you so 
full of slugs you could stand on your head without trying." 

"I won't take no dive," Al said. 

"All right, you bastard, you'll think different tomorrow," Pete 
slammed the door as he went out. 

Al looked out the window a long time. Lights were coming on 
all over the city. Between him and the lake, a mile away, two lines 
of young poplars were blowing. Fingering in his pocket the quarter, 
the dime and the crumpled dollar bill, Al knew without much 

anger that he would take the dive. 

* * * - 

When he was dressing the night of the bout, Al didn't feel 
nervous as he usually did before a fight. The fact that the ending 
was arranged and known, holding no mystery, was quieting. Al 
was alone in one of two small dressing rooms reserved for main- 
bout fighters. Pete was there and a handler they usually had, 
named Joe Moody. But it was as though these other two were 
not there. 

Al sat on a bench, the bathrobe on and a towel over his throat 
and chest. Absently but carefully he wrapped gauze about his 
hand and thumb and knuckles. He looked up and was surprised 
to see Pete nearby and watching him. 

"How are you?" 

"I'm all right. When do I go on.?" 






I Won't Do No Dive 7 

"Pretty quick," Pete said. "You don't have to fix those ban- 
dages so good." 

"I don't want to hurt my hands." 

'You ain't gonna hit him hard enough to hurt them." 

'No, but I might hit him accidental in the back of the head 
or the top." 

"You know what to do, now.?" Pete said in a lower voice. "The 
boog got you in the seventh and tonight they want you to dive any 
time before the seventh so's Waller'll look better than the boog." 

"That boog would never of got me if I hadn't been sick." 

"I know all about that." Pete was nervous. "The idea is you're 
supposed to go before the seventh tonight." 

"All right, I know. I don't know how he'll ever hit me, though, 
he's such a bum. I'll just have to stand there and let him hit me." 

"I don't care what you do," Pete said in a low, savage voice; 
"so long as you go down and stay down before the seventh." 

"Okay. Did I say anything.?" Al asked. His calmness surprised 
him. He felt very quiet. "You got all the dough?" 

"I just got most of it." 

Joe Moody answered a knock at the door and a fat man looked 
in and said it was time to go on. A minute later the three of them 
went through the doorway into a corridor. It was colder there and 
a wind blew. They went along the corridor and turned right up 
a runway into a place of warmth, dull yellow light and tobacco 
smoke. The sound of voices rose in intensity as they came along 
the aisle and with his handlers near him, his big shoulders swinging 
loose and easy, and the feel of the eyes looking at him, Al was 
keen and fine for a minute. Then they were in the ring and Waller 
was already there, across it, bigger than Al but square in the 
shoulders and no hitter. 

"Go over and shake hands with him," Pete said. 

"He should come over to me," Al said. 

Pete cursed and Al went over. "Luck," he said. Waller smiled 
the forced, false grin of the unsure fighter. Al saw that Waller 
was a little scared even knowing he was going to win. 

"Thanks, kid," Waller said, taking Al's hand in both his own. 
Waller's handlers looked at Al. They were smiling two ways, with 
the mouth and with the eyes. 

Back in the corner Pete whispered to Al: "There's the Magrid 
bunch near the ring." 



8 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Al saw some flasliily-dressed men talking and smoking to- 
gether. They didn't look much different from the other people 
near the ring, only a little better dressed. It wasn't a very big fight 
club they were all in that night. 

Joe Moody held the six-ounce gloves and Al slipped his hands 
into them. These gloves always felt small after the big training 
gloves. Joe Moody was pale and quiet. Al had had him for a handler 
before and he was usually gabby. After all, Al thought, what the 
hell is there to talk about tonight. 

When Al and then Waller were introduced, neither of them 
got a very big hand although Al got the bigger one and when 
Waller was introduced someone in the rear yelled: "Throw him 
out. He's a bum. He stinks." 

Al glanced at the Magrid bunch near the ring. They didn't 
seem bothered much. Their heavy-lidded eyes blinked slowly and 
they seemed very satisfied with their cigars. 

The first round was easy for Al. Waller was as bad as he had 
thought. Waller swung clumsily and didn't land a solid punch. Al 
shook him with short rights under the heart and made him look 
silly with straight lefts. The crowd gave Al a big hand when the 
round ended. 

"What the hell's the matter with you?" Pete said. 

"Why, isn't it all right for me to look pretty good for a while .^ 
I got to dive soon enough." 

In the third and fourth rounds Al let Waller hit him, although 
he cushioned the punches pretty well with gloves and arms. When 
Waller swung his left hook it was wide and long, not quick and 
short and snapped as a hook should be. A couple of times Al 
just caught himself as he was going to let go with a straight right, 
which is always the answer to a wide left hook, since the right goes 
straight and inside the hook and you not only hit your opponent 
but the deltoid of your right arm cushions his blow. It was Al's 
best punch and he caught himself as he started to throw it a couple 
of times and just blocked Waller's hook, instead. 

After the fourth round, Pete said he thought it was time Al 
took the dive. "You're making me nervous the way you got that 
right cocked. Every time he swings that round house left I think 
you're going to let go." 

"I won't let it go," Al said. He felt tired. Not from fighting. 



I Won't Do No Dive 9 

It was a new kind of tiredness. "I'll dive now. I don't know how 
the hell you do it, but — " 

"Just drop if he swings anywhere near you," Pete said. 

"That's swell," Al said. "That'll look swell." 

He'd do it early, Al thought. They were sparring near the 
center of the ring. Al purposely dropped his guard more than 
usual and Waller swung his long left. It hit Al with surprising 
force before he could even partly block it. Al shook his head to 
clear it. Eagerly, for the first time almost savagely, Waller came 
in for the kill. He swung his left again and Al's right moved 
inside it in a straight line, although Al didn't know it. All Al 
felt and knew at first was the shock of Waller's punch where it 
struck his deltoid. Then he saw Waller's face growing blank and 
dropping and twisting away in the same movement, the mouth 
falling into a startled roundness and the eyes growing empty, 
the face twisting down and to the left. It was a beautiful punch, 
perfectly timed and well delivered. 

Al was standing over Waller who was out cold on the canvas. 
The referee was pushing and tugging at Al to get him into a 
neutral corner. The crowd was on its feet yelling as they hadn't 
yelled for Al in a long time and Al was stupidly looking at Waller, 
limp and on the floor and quite small. 

Al was in a corner and the crowd was still yelling. Waller was 
counted out and Al turned to his own corner. He felt pretty good. 
Then he saw Pete Krevitz's face and it was different from any 
way it had ever been before. Al began to feel uneasy. 

"I didn't mean it," Al said. "I don't know how it happened. 
Honest to Christ I didn't mean it. I didn't think. I — " 

Pete stared at him as though Al had suddenly died. "Christ," 
Pete said, "Christ," and turned and went up the aisle alone. He 
almost ran. Joe Moody had disappeared. 

Al threw the robe over his shoulders and raised his glove to 
the crowd which was yelling a little. Then he started up the aisle 
alone. The yelling rose some and men and boys and one woman 
reached out to pat his back or to touch and finger his robe. They 
liked a good, clean knockout. Al felt pretty good, hearing them. 
But in the dimness of the corridor and the wind blowing along 
it he felt no way at all, good or bad. No one was there. The crowd 
was going out another way. Cops would not let them down the 



10 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

runways leading into that corridor. Al opened tlie door of his dress- 
ing room and it was empty. He had thought Pete would be there. 

He wondered why Pete wasn't there. It seemed funny to be 
undressing alone after a fight. He had always had someone near 
him to help if he was too tired to undress ; to treat cuts and give 
him a rub after the shower. Al moved slowly. He didn't feel tired 
or hurt as after most fights. He really felt pretty good although 
the sweat was cold on him before he went into the shower. He 
stayed under the water longer than usual. His thought was slow 
and heavy and he figured it must have been a pretty good crack 
Waller had hit him. He must have stood wide open and waiting 
for it, because a square-shouldered guy like Waller had no right 
to be hitting that hard. 

Al came out of the shower and again the loneliness of the room 
under a single light bulb impressed him. He wondered if Pete 
could be getting drunk; he often did after a fight. The least he 
could of done was leave a dollar or two for a steak before going. 
It couldn't really be that Pete was afraid of the Magrid bunch. 
They wouldn't really get tough. They might hold out the rest of 
the dough that was coming, but they wouldn't really get tough. 

Al stood up after drying himself, naked in the dim, granular 
light. He had a beautiful, loosely-muscled build. His muscles were 
not hard but pliant and firm and his skin was smooth and silky. 
Women liked to touch it. He paused, standing erect, naked and 
beautiful and alone, and gravely considered whether the Magrid 
bunch would really do anything. Gravely he decided that they 
wouldn't and began to dress. 

There was the noise of feet in the corridor and Al paused and 
looked at the door. The feet went swiftly by. Al felt himself relax. 
He wondered what was the matter with him, anyway. Everything 
would be all right tomorrow. He'd have Pete explain that it had 
all been a mistake, that he really hadn't intended it. And he hadn't. 
There had been the opening and without thinking he had put the 
right into it. Tomorrow Pete would explain for him and every- 
thing would be all right. Everything would be fine. 

When he was dressed, he packed his bag. He really needed a 
new bag. He would ask Pete about that tomorrow. When he was 
ready to go, Al put his hand on the light cord, then took it away 
without pulling it. When he approached the door to open it he 
had begun to sweat a little. What the hell's the matter with me. 



I Won't Do No Dive 11 

he thought. He decided he hadn't stayed under the cold shower long 
enough to stop sweating. 

Al put his hand on the door. His hand hesitated on the knob 
and, angry with the hand, Al flung the door open. The corridor 
was empty. He stepped into it. Fifty yards long, it lay under a 
faint light from small bulbs. No one was in it. As Al walked slowly, 
carrying his bag, he thought of how he hadn't seen anyone since he 
had left the arena and the crowd yelling for him. The wind blowing 
along the corridor made him feel the wetness on his forehead. 

He walked along. In the arena to his right, through the occa- 
sional runways, Al heard the noises of chairs being folded and 
benches moved. These came slowly and far apart as though only a 
few men were working. Noise came at him sharply as he passed 
the last runway and his whole body jumped. For Christ sake, he 
thought, what's the matter with me.^ It was only a chair being 
folded nearby. 

At the end of the corridor were two doors, one going straight 
into the lobby, the other, on the left, opening directly into the 
street. Al tried the lobby door but it was locked. He turned to 
the street door and felt the sweat come out on him again. In the 
name of Christ, he thought, what the hell's the matter with me? 
Nothing's going to happen, he told himself, what the hell are you 
so jittery about? 

He took a long breath and opened the street door. There was 
no one outside and it was colder than in the corridor. He had 
vaguely expected or hoped that Pete or Joe Moody might be wait- 
ing for him. There was no one on the street, not even a cop. A 
single light in the middle of the block cast shadows but did little 
more. The concrete wall of the fight club ran unbrokenly along 
the side Al was on. Across the street there was a big garage, dark 
now, and a big, empty lot. Nothing else. There was no one on the 
street. Al felt the breath go out of him and he felt better. Then 
he noticed a car parked down the street, forty or fifty yards away. 
It was on the same side he was and the lights were out. He looked 
at it a while, feeling himself tense again. The car didn't move and 
Al turned and began to walk away from it. A couple of punks neck- 
ing, he thought. He didn't know why he was so nervous. "Every- 
thing's all right," he said aloud. "Everything's okay." 

Behind him the car began to move, gathering speed slowly. He 
heard it come closer but didn't turn to look. Why the hell don't 



12 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

they turn their lights on? he thought. That's a hell of a way to 
drive! Why don't they turn their lights on? The car was almost 
abreast of him. Its lights were off and it was just drifting along 
in second. 

Al felt a sudden, sharp, light push on his shoulder, then an- 
other lower down, then a third. Quick, like jabs. Then he was 
lying on the sidewalk and he heard the noise, quickly repeated like 
the push. No pain. Only more noise and the quick, sharp, small 
pushes all along his body and it being hard to breathe on account 
of stuff coming up in your throat. He opened his mouth to yell 
but it wasn't sound that came out. The noise died slowly in his 
ears. Sleep was a much better thing, some part of him quietly 
thought. He lay there in the silent street. 



HearBe of the Speedwatf 

ty Peter Granger 



We had just finished making the final checks on the new Bugatti 
and Maseratti the Old Man had sent over from Europe. The Old 
Man, that's Timmons, he owns the stable, had an idea they'd be 
good on the dirt tracks because they were so fast on the pick-up. 
I was willing to follow orders, but we had tried those light foreign 
cars before. 

Saunders, head mechanic, looked up at me. His face was shiny 
with grease and two black oil daubs were over his eyebrows. His 
eyes squinted up like a seaman's. 

"0. K., I guess. Good cars. Be swell if they'll stay on the 
track." 

I nodded and turned away. With all the cars in the stable al- 
ready, the Old Man had to send me a couple more to worry about. 

Then I saw someone coming toward me, picking his way through 
the pools of oil that hadn't drained off the floor yet. 

He was just a kid, twenty-two or three, maybe, and looking 
just off the farm. His clothes were brand new and looked like a 
stage costume for a country boy in Sunday-go-to-meeting-best. 

He came up to me, walking with a little swagger that I thought 
put on for the occasion. When he got closer I saw his skin had a 
hard time showing itself on his face because of the freckles. His 
hair was a dull, goldish-red and needed combing pretty badly. His 
teeth showed through a half -scared grin. 

"Are you Mr. Blane?" he said. "They told me I would find 
him in here." (They probably told him, too, that I'd be the guy 
with the horn-rimmed glasses, the funny nose, and the prison 
haircut.) 

"That's me. Sonny," I said. "What can I do for you?" think- 
ing he probably wants to see what a racing car looks like close up. 

He gave me a letter he had been clutching tightly in his hand. 
It was from the Old Man, and right away I began to feel bad. 
It was written to this kid, whose name is Williams, but written 
for me to read, too. It told him to report to me for work, and 
me to put him in as driver for the Thomson "16" Special. 

13 



14 , Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Things sort of dropped inside me then. I took another look 
at Williams who was standing there with most of his weight on one 
foot and staring at the two foreign cars like a farmer seeing a 
giraffe for the first time. 

He seemed even younger. I reread the letter to make sure I 
had been right the first time. I had been. 

''Ready to go to work?" I asked him, wishing to God the Old 
Man would let me pick my own drivers. 

"You mean you'll take me, Mr. Blane?" the Kid was excited 
and I could see he had been pretty anxious. 

"What experience have you had?" I answered, figuring it 
would be better if I did not tell him I had to take him, like it or not. 

The Kid's grin spread out till most of his teeth showed. 

"Not very much, I'm afraid; I did some dirt track work last 
summer. Not a real racing car, but I had a Model A Ford I con- 
verted. Another fellow helped me. Made a clean sweep of the field 
at the Newberry track. That was where Mr. Timmons saw me. 
He took my name and address and said he would get in touch 
with me later. I thought he had forgotten all about it until this 
letter came the other day." 

"The Old Man, Mr. Timmons, that is, keeps his promises," 
I told him. Under my breath I said, 'worse luck.' Then I introduced 
him to Saunders who had been listening with one ear, but hadn't 
been able to read the letter over my shoulder. 

"Williams is going to drive the new Thomson job. Take the 
covering off so he can see it, will you?" 

Saunders' mouth fell open and he moved away. He knew as 
well as everyone in the stable did that I had planned to put "Ace" 
Kennedy in as driver. Ace was the best chauffeur we had, and had 
been with us the longest. I had practically promised him the car, 
and, besides, a car like that needed a driver like Kennedy. 

But the Old Man's orders are the Old Man's orders. I'm only 
the manager. 

The Kid's eyes kind of popped when he caught sight of the 
Thomson. He didn't say anything that I could understand, though 
he did mumble something. I guess he really expected to be put in 
some old giloppie for a season or two till he got to know the ropes. 

The "Tommy" was something to make the eyes pop, too. Even 
had spectator appeal, you know what I mean, long, racy lines, 
plenty of chromium splashed around, and a jet black body. The 



Hearse of the Speedway 15 

red and gold unicorn rampant, badge of the Timmons' Stable, 
looked pretty high class. 

Saunders had sized the Kid up by this time, so he opened the 
hood of the car like he was unveiling a war monument. The Kid 
gasped a little and moved closer. 

There's a lot of difference between a converted four cylinder 
engine and this "Tommy." The Kid was taking it all in without 
saying a word. It was one of the sweetest sixteen cylinder engines 
ever made, two cycle, and with a supercharger almost as big as 
the flivver motor he had been running the year before. A thing 
like that can be impressive, if, of course, you have the speedway 
in your blood. The Kid evidently had, so I couldn't blame him 
for going into a trance. 

I knew Saunders had been sore when he found Williams was 
to drive "Tommy." It had been his pet since coming from the 
factory. He had worked himself and the other mechanics ragged get- 
ting it in shape. Not that it needed much, they're pretty thorough 
at Thomson's shop, but you know how a racing mechanic is with 
a new car. 

I could see the way the Kid had been impressed with the car 
had warmed Saunders up a lot toward him. With Saunders' help 
the Kid could save himself a lot of trouble, save me a lot, too. 

I didn't get by without trouble from Ace, of course. He blew 
up. He calmed down a lot, though, when I got the Old Man's 
consent to have him take charge of the team we were sending abroad. 
Hell ! I was a top kick during the war and got used to getting the 
buck passed from each end. This job's worse, though. 

"Tommy" hadn't been out on the track yet, not even for a test 
run. Now that the Kid was to drive it, I thought it just as well 
to begin because he would have to get accustomed to it. 

The Kid could drive, I'll say that for him, in spite of his lack 
of experience. I sent him around the track a few times in other 
cars before I let him take out the "Tommy." Fifty thousand bucks 
is a lot for a car, and one good smack-up will make it worth what 
the junkman will pay. I wasn't taking chances. 

We were all down there the day it rolled out for the first time. 
The Kid got behind the wheel looking proud as punch. He loped 
off the first few laps to get the feel of it and let it warm up. 

The first several laps he did in fifty seconds. Then he opened 
it up. He must have pushed the gas down just coming into the 



16 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

home stretch. I could hear the motor break into a deep throated 
whine on the North Turn. The supercharger cut in with a scream. 
The car came roaring down the track moving like a black streak of 
lightning. 

It didn't slow down on the curves ; the speed increased, if any- 
thing. When it came over the line for the first fast lap it was 
clocked at twenty-five seconds. Everyone started talking at once. 
One hundred and forty-four miles an hour for the first fast lap, 
and still gaining speed! 

I signalled it into the pits on the fifth fast lap. 

None of us had expected the speed. Thomson had estimated a 
potential of over two hundred, but potentials aren't what win 
races. I had figured maybe a hundred and thirty the first time 
out with the Kid driving. 

When he left the car the Kid came up to me. He was grinning 
but I saw he was puzzled. 

"You didn't give me a chance to open it up," he complained. 
"It was good for plenty more." 

"Do you know how fast you did that last lap?" I asked. He 
shook his head. "Just a hundred and sixty-seven miles per hour," 
saying it slow so it would sink in. 

"Shucks," he said, "it rode like thirty." Then he looked at me 
with widening eyes. ''How fast did you say?" He nearly fainted 
when I repeated it. 

I was still worried about putting the Kid in the fastest car 
in the country, but I knew the Old Man would raise hell if I didn't 
follow orders. 

I opened him at Reading with the "Tommy." The Kid could 
drive in a race, too, a fine natural. He had that knack that even 
experience won't give. That something that makes all the muscles 
coordinate just right in an emergency, and just right enough. 

He went through the first events at a walk. No trouble devel- 
oped and some of my fears were beginning to drop away. 

In the big race of the day he was in front from the start. In 
fi\e laps he was half a lap ahead and still gaining, though I could 
see he was holding it in. 

He came into the stretch. There was a clear field ahead, but 
the Kid didn't open up. I guessed that he figured he had the race 
by a safe margin and wasn't taking chances. 

Right opposite the pits something went wrong. The crowd was 



Hearse of the Speedway 17 

on Its feet, yelling, sensing something that hadn't happened, yet. 
"Sixteen" went into a skid. It broadsided along the track. Then 
it toppled over. The kid was thrown clear. The car came to a stop 
against the railing. 

I got out to him first. He was lying prone on the track, but got 
to his feet as I reached him. He stood and looked at the car and 
then at me. 

"It was the damnedest thing," he said, and his cheeks were 
covered with tears and dust. "It just went into a skid. No reason 
for it." 

I caught him as he fell. 

At the hospital they said he was in pretty bad shape. 

"He'll come out of it all right," the doc said, "but it will take 
time. Six or eight months." 

I saw the Kid the next day. He was all bandaged up, and 
looked very sorry for himself. 

"I'm O. K.," he replied to my question, "how's the car." 

"Nothing to worry about," I told him, "a few dents in it, no 
harm done." 

And there wasn't. It took a few hours to straighten out the 
body creases, that was all. We spent a good many hours, though, 
trying to figure out what had caused the skid. It seemed to be just 
one of those things. 

"I won't be able to race again this year," the Kid was looking 
at me with large, pleading, half frightened eyes, "but will you 
take me back next season.^ It wasn't my fault, honest." 

I nodded and told him he would have a place with us and the 
stable was taking care of everything. I knew it wasn't the Kid's 
fault, we all did. Things like that happen, though. 

Except for conditioning, the car wasn't run again until the 
end of May. I put Cook in as driver and Saunders as riding me- 
chanic at his own request. The qualifying runs were made with 
an average of over a hundred and forty, which is high speed for 
the old Indianapolis track, built for a top of about ninety. 

Cook cut loose as soon as the paced lap was over. His lead 
grew with every lap. A quick check when he came into the pits 
for gas showed that everything was in order. We changed the 
wheels and he started again. 

The race looked as much in the pocket as a race can ever look 
before it's over. Then Cook shot over the south retaining wall. 



18 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

I got out there as fast as I could, but the ambulance beat me 
to it. Cook and Saunders were both dead. 

The funny part of it was that the car was in perfect condition, 
the paint was hardly scratched. When cars go over that wall they 
are usually wrecks, but not the "Tommy." I had a mechanic test 
it and it roared into life at once, 

I put Deset and Taylor in as reliefs. I thought it would de- 
velop mechanical trouble of some sort from the punishment it had 
taken, but the laps rolled by without a hitch. 

Five laps from the finish they pulled Deset out of the seat. First 
they had to turn the car right side up. Both were seriously injured, 
but expected to live. 

The car's condition was perfect. 

Geran took the car at Detroit and got a skull concussion. The 
car was undamaged. Haynes was killed at Altoona, Myers at Oak- 
land. Rogers was severely injured at Langhorn, Berger was killed 
at Syracuse. In each case "Tommy" had started off well, led the 
field, then crashed, unaccountably. Never, so far as we could tell, 
w^as it the fault of the driver, nor was it the fault of circumstances. 
There was nothing wrong with the car, before, during, or after the 
race. Even when it crashed a fence or a wall, or rolled over, it re- 
quired just a few licks with a hammer and a touch of paint to put 
it back in shape. 

A couple of Sunday supplements picked up the story, then 
the magazines. "The Murder Car of the American Speedway" they 
called it. We called it the "Black Hearse," and it wasn't a bad name. 

I had kept the Old Man informed of what was going on. He 
was still in Europe. I wanted to pull it in after Oakland, but he 
said to keep it running. 

When it Avent in for the winter we got to work on it. We took 
it down, measured and checked, calibrated and weighed, cussed 
and swore at every part of it. Every part was perfect. Then we 
assembled it and sent it around the track with a crazy driver 
willing to take a chance. The "Hearse" turned in an average of 
one hundred and seventy-five for the twenty miles. We all gath- 
ered around and swore at the assembled car. What else could we do? 

I wasn't intending to race it any more. The Old Man's orders 
or not, no driver except Ace was willing to take it in an actual 
race — ^that was where trouble came. I had it painted white and 
stored. 



Hearse of the Speedway 19 

A lot of people, women's clubs mostly, thought it should be 
ruled from the tracks. But the AAA couldn't do that when tests 
showed it was in sounder condition than most of the cars running. 
Hoodoos aren't taken up in the rule book. 

As I said, I had no intention of running it. Then the Kid 
showed up just before the season opened. He walked with a slight 
limp, but otherwise he was in good shape. He had a certificate 
from the docs saying his reflexes were all 0. K. He was all ready 
to drive the "Hearse" again, but I said I wouldn't allow it. No use 
getting the Kid killed. 

So the fool wrote to the Old Man and the Old Man cables 
back saying that I would give the Kid the chariot, or else — . 

At Reading, just a year after its first entrance, we rolled it 
onto the track. Some of the drivers looked at it, glistening in the 
sun, and I heard a few mutterings about the "Black Hearse." You 
can't disguise a jinx by painting it. 

Just before the first race the Kid got a bad pain. It turned out 
to be appendicitis and they took him to the hospital. I was relieved. 
I liked the Kid. 

Then, as usual, I had more trouble. Ace Kennedy was there 
slated to drive a Miller. When he saw that the Kid was out he came 
over and demanded the "Hearse." I gave it to him because he 
threatened to quit the stable if I didn't. 

Sure, he cracked up. The best driver in the country and he 
turns over at fifty miles an hour on a clear stretch. He wasn't hurt 
much, but he was sore. He never had believed that jinx business. 
He did now. It didn't hurt the car any. 

The Kid was all right in a few weeks. I put him into a couple 
of races with a Duesenberg. He did 0. K. Between races he would 
come back to the shop and fool around the "Hearse." He didn't 
seem to be doing any work on it, just hanging around and looking 
at it, mostly. 

Then he came to me. 

"I'm driving the 'Tommy' at Indianapolis, Mr. Blane," he 
showed me the letter from the Old Man. 

"Anything I can do?" I asked. 

"Yes," he said. "Will you have it painted black again .^" 

Hell, the Kid was just asking for it. I told them to paint it and 
tune it. 



20 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

The Old Man turned up at Indianapolis that year. I button- 
holed him. 

"Listen," I said, "are you going to let the Kid drive the 
'Hearse'?" 

He thought I was crazy and I had to tell him why we called 
it the "Hearse." He hadn't got it at all from the news I sent him, 
and when I was finished he still didn't believe it. He called me 
superstitious. I guess I was. 

"I don't know who you'll get to ride with him," I said, "but 
my suggestion is you don't let it go in." 

The Old Man's suggestion was that I grow up, and if I couldn't 
get a riding mechanic, why, he would. He did. 

I called a "good luck" to the Kid which he didn't hear, and he 
started off, post position. 

I watched that race, not from the pits, but from the stands, 
and with high powered glasses. Something else was riding with 
the Kid beside the mechanic. Something that was trying to wreck 
him. I could see how he fought with it on curves and on the stretch. 
I could see him struggling when it started to swerve, started to 
turn or to skid, when it failed to respond immediately to the wheel ; 
every inch of the way he fought with it. 

At the end of the two hundredth lap the checkered flag went 
down. I couldn't believe the "Hearse" had made it, had won. The 
Old Man was beside me as we watched him take his safety lap. 
Then he took a second and a third. I thought he was driving in 
exultation. I was worried, fate can be played with only so far. 

Then they were trying to flag him from the course, but he 
kept on, lap after lap. I could see the mechanic's face as the car 
flashed by. The features behind the goggles seemed terrified. 

The car stopped when it ran out of gas. When they lifted the 
Kid from the car he was unconscious, and the scared mechanic 
nearly so. The Old Man was rushing up and down, yelling at other 
owners, yelling at drivers and newspapermen, wanting to know 
what in the hell all this "Black Hearse Hoodoo" business was about. 
I saw that the Kid was in for a big bonus. 

There was no stopping the Kid for the rest of the season. Rec- 
ords toppled all over the country by seconds and minutes. Dirt, 
sand, concrete, wood and macadam tracks were burned by the wheels 
of the "Hearse." 

The Kid thought of nothing but the car and the races. He 



Hearse of the Speedway 21 

seldom spoke, and when he did it was to say something about the 
"Hearse." 

He didn't have a crash all year, didn't even slide into a fence. 
It was one of the sweetest streaks of winning any driver has ever 
had. Of course, after the points he rolled up at Indianapolis there 
wasn't a doubt as to who would have the AAA Championship. If 
someone else had won every race in the country they couldn't have 
touched his standing. 

I watched him through that season, though. When everyone 
else was thinking how lucky he was, I could see how he fought his 
way through each race, struggling to keep the car under his con- 
trol. It must have been hard, very hard. I could see how it was 
sapping his strength and vitality. But he never complained, you 
would have thought his life w^as a bed of roses. But he never smiled 
and never relaxed, and people meeting him for the first time won- 
dered w^hy he was called the Kid ; he didn't look young any more. 
He spent his spare time keeping in condition, playing handball 
in the daytime and knitting at night. The handball helped his eyes, 
quickened his reflexes, the knitting kept his nerves down. 

At the end of the season the Old Man was mighty proud of 
the Kid, and the whole outfit cashed in on his praises. Timmons 
would have done anything for the Kid, but nothing existed for him 
but the car. 

The Old Man threw a dinner for the stable (equipe, he calls 
it). The Kid was to be guest of honor. Timmons was giving him 
a fat bonus check and a little silver model of the "Hearse." The 
drivers were giving him a watch, and the mechanics had a fancy 
radiator ornament made for him. 

When the dinner was about to begin I looked around and saw 
that everyone was there but the Kid. I remembered how moody 
he had been and was worried. I went over to the rooming house he 
stayed in when he was in town. I knocked on the door of his room. 
When I got no answer I turned the knob and opened the door. 

The Kid didn't hear me come in. He w^as lying on the bed, sob- 
bing as though his heart w^ere breaking. I didn't know what to do, 
so I made enough noise for him to hear. When he realized some one 
was in the room he turned around and tried to stop crying. 

I got it out of him finally. He had been crying because the 
racing season was over, because there would be no more racing 
until spring. He was deadly serious about it and I could see that the 



22 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

pain struck deep into him. I tried to cheer him up, told him that 
he could get in a few winter races if he wanted to, but they didn't 
amount to anything and he knew it. 

He calmed down after awhile. I tried to get him to go over 
to the hotel. He wasn't interested in the dinner, he said, and what 
was more, he wasn't going. I had to insist, of course, the Old Man 
waiting and everything. He just walked out on me, leaving me there 
in his room. I knew he wouldn't be going to the hotel. 

I looked around his room before I left. It was the usual type 
of furnished room and I could see the Kid hadn't gotten any fancy 
ideas with all the money he was pulling in. 

There was just one book there, if there had been more I don't 
think I would have noticed, but I wondered what this one was. 

It opened in my hands to a page that must have been read 
many times. One paragraph was heavily circled with pencil. I 
read it: 

"When two strong forces meet there is a conflict of power. 
If these two forces stay together there will be continuous clash- 
ing, but in the end the stronger will overcome the weaker, and 
will have complete mastery." 

Under this the Kid had written : 

"The stronger overcame the weaker, I overcame the Car, 
and mastered It." 

I reread the two. The printed words seemed true enough, but 
I thought of the Kid's mind being obsessed with the car, thinking 
of nothing else, and I wasn't so sure about what he had written. I 
wondered who had become the master, the car or the man. 



The Horns of the Bull 

ty Ernest Hemingway 



Madrid is full of boys named Paco, which is the diminutive of the 
name Francisco, and there is a Madrid joke about a father who 
came to Madrid and inserted an advertisement in the personal 
columns of El Liberal which said Paco meet me at Hotel Montana 
noon Tuesday all is forgiven papa and how a squadron of Guardia 
Civil had to be called out to disperse the eight hundred young 
men who answered the advertisement. But this Paco, who waited 
on table at the Pension Luarca, had no father to forgive him nor 
anything for the father to forgive. He had two older sisters who 
were chambermaids at the Luarca, who had gotten their place 
through coming from the same small village as a former Luarca 
chambermaid who had proven hardworking and honest and hence 
given her village and its products a good name, and these sisters 
had paid his way on the auto-bus to Madrid and gotten him his job 
as an apprentice waiter. 

He came from a village in a part of Extremadura where con- 
ditions were incredibly primitive, food scarce and comforts un- 
known, and he had worked hard ever since he could remember. 
He was a well built boy with very black, rather curly hair, good 
teeth and a skin that his sisters envied and he had a ready and un- 
puzzled smile. He was fast on his feet and did his work well and 
he loved his sisters, who seemed beautiful and sophisticated, he loved 
Madrid, which was still an unbelievable place, and he loved his 
work which, done under bright lights, with clean linen, the wear- 
ing of evening clothes, and abundant food in the kitchen, seemed 
romantically beautiful. 

There were from eight to a dozen other people who lived at the 
Luarca and ate in the dining room but for Paco, the youngest of 
the three waiters who served at table, the only ones who really 
existed were the bull fighters. 

Second rate matadors lived at that pension because the address 
in the Calle San Jeronimo was good, the food was excellent and 
the room and board was cheap. It is necessary for a bull fighter 
to give the appearance, if not of prosperity, at least of respecta- 

23 



24} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

bility since decorum and dignity rank above courage as the virtues 
most highly prized in Spain, and bull fighters stayed at the Luarca 
until their last pesetas were gone. There is no record of any bull 
fighter having left the Luarca for a better or more expensive 
hotel; second rate bull fighters never become first rate; but the 
descent from the Luarca was swift since anyone could stay there 
who was making anything at all and a bill was never presented to 
a guest unasked until the woman who ran the place knew that the 
case was hopeless. 

At this time there were three full matadors living at the Luarca 
as well as two very good picadors, and one excellent banderillero. 
The Luarca was luxury for the picadors and the banderilleros, 
who, with their families in Seville, required lodging in Madrid 
during the spring season ; but they were well paid and in the fixed 
employ of fighters who were heavily contracted during the coming 
season, and the three of these subalterns would probably make 
much more apiece than any of the three matadors. Of the three 
matadors one was ill and trying to conceal it; one had passed his 
short vogue as a novelty, and the third was a coward. 

The coward had at one time, until he had received a peculiarly 
atrocious horn wound in the lower abdomen at the start of his first 
season as a full matador, beeii exceptionally brave and remark- 
ably skillful, and he still had many of the hearty mannerisms of his 
days of success. He was jovial to excess and laughed constantly with 
and without provocation. He had, when successful, been very ad- 
dicted to practical jokes but he had given them up now. They took 
an assurance that he did not feel. This matador had an intelligent, 
very open face and he carried himself with much style. 

The matador who was ill was careful never to show it and was 
meticulous about eating a little of all the dishes that were pre- 
sented at the table. He had a great many handkerchiefs which he 
laundered himself in his room and, lately, he had been selling his 
fighting suits. He had sold one, cheaply, before Christmas and 
another in the first week of April. They had been very expensive 
suits, had always been well kept and he had one more. Before he 
had become ill he had been a very promising, even a sensational, 
fighter and, while he himself could not read, he had clippings which 
said that in his debut in Madrid he had been better than Belmonte. 
He ate alone at a small table and looked up very little. 

The matador who had once been a novelty was very short and 



The Horns of the Bull 25 

brown and dignified. He also ate alone at a separate table and he 
smiled rarely and never laughed. He came from Valladolid, where 
the people are extremely serious, and he was a capable matador, 
but his style had become old-fashioned before he had ever suc- 
ceeded in endearing himself to the public through his virtues, which 
were courage and a calm capability, and his name on a poster would 
draw no one to a bull ring. His novelty had been that he was so 
short that he could barely see over the bull's withers, but there 
were other short fighters, and he had never succeeded in imposing 
himself on the public's fancy. 

Of the picadors one was a thin, hawk-faced, gray-haired man, 
lightly built but with legs and arms like iron who always wore 
cattleman's boots under his trousers, drank too much every evening 
and gazed amorously at any woman in the pension. The other was 
huge, dark, brown-faced, good-looking, with black hair like an 
Indian and enormous hands. Both were great picadors although 
the first was reputed to have lost much of his ability through drink 
and dissipation, and the second was said to be too headstrong and 
quarrelsome to stay with any matador more than a single season. 

The banderillero was middle-aged, gray, short, cat-quick in 
spite of his years, and, sitting at table reading the paper, looked a 
moderately prosperous business man. His legs were still good for 
this season and when they should go he was intelligent and expe- 
rienced enough to keep regularly employed for a long time. The 
difference would be that when his speed of foot would be gone he 
would always be frightened where now he was assured and calm in 
the ring and out of it. 

On this evening everyone had left the dining room except the 
hawk-faced picador who drank too much, the birth-marked faced 
auctioneer of watches at the fairs and festivals of Spain, who also 
drank too much, and two priests from Galacia who were sitting at 
a comer table and drinking, while not too much perhaps enough. 
At that time wine was included in the price of the room and board 
at the Luarca and the waiters had just brought a fresh bottle of 
Valdepefias to the tables of the auctioneer, then to the picador and 
finally to the two priests. 

The three waiters stood at the end of the room. It was the rule 
of the house that they should all remain on duty until the diners 
whose tables they were responsible for should all have left, but the 
one who sensed the table of the two priests had an appointment 



^6 Esquire^s Second Sports Readei- 

to go to an Anarcho-Syndicalist meeting and Paco had agreed id 
take over his table for him. 

Upstairs the matador who was ill was lying face down on his 
bed alone. The matador who was no longer a novelty was sitting 
looking out of his window preparatory to walking out to the cafe. 
The matador who was now a coward had the older sister of Paco 
in his room with him and was trying to get her to do something 
which she was laughingly refusing to do. This matador was saying 
"Come on little savage." 

"No," said the sister. "Why should I?" 

"For a favor." 

"You've eaten and now you want me for dessert." 

"Just once. What harm can it do?" 

"Leave me alone. Leave me alone I tell you." 

"It is a very little thing to do." 

"Leave me alone I tell j^ou." 

Down in the dining room the tallest of the waiters, who was 
overdue at the meeting, said "Look at those black pigs drink." 

"That's no way to speak," said the second waiter. "They are 
decent clients. They do not drink too much." 

"For me it is a good way to speak," said the tall one. "There 
are the two curses of Spain, the bulls and the priests." 

"Certainly not the individual bull and the individual priest," 
said the second waiter. 

"Yes," said the tall waiter, "Only through the individual can 
you attack the class. It is necessary to kill the individual bull and 
the individual priest. All of them. Then there are no more." 

"Save it for the meeting," said the other waiter. 

"Look at the barbarity of Madrid," said the tall waiter. "It is 
now half-past eleven o'clock and these are still guzzling." 

"They only started to eat at ten," said the other waiter. "As 
you know there are many dishes. That wine is cheap and these have 
paid for it. It is not strong wine." 

"How can there be solidarity of workers with fools like you.'^" 
asked the tall waiter. 

"Look," said the second waiter who was a man of fifty. "I have 
worked all my life. In all that remains of my life I must work. I 
have no complaints against work. To work is normal." 

"Yes, but the lack of work kills." 



The Horns of the Bull 27 

"I have always worked," said the older waiter. "Go on to the 
meeting. There is no necessity to stay." 

"You are a good comrade," said the tall waiter. "But you lack 
all ideology." 

^'Mejor si me fait an eso que el otro,^^ said the older waiter 
(meaning it is better to lack that than work). "Go on to the mitin,''' 

Paco had said nothing. He did not yet understand politics but 
it always gave him a thrill to hear the tall waiter speak of the 
necessity for killing the priests and the Guardia Civil. The tall 
waiter represented to him Revolution and revolution also was ro- 
mantic. He himself would like to be a good Catholic, a revolution- 
ary, and have a steady job like this while, at the same time, being a 
bull fighter. 

"Go on to the meeting Ignacio," he said. "I will respond for 
your work." 

"The two of us," said the older waiter. 

"There isn't enough for one," said Paco. "Go on to the meeting." 

^'Pues me voy,^^ said the tall waiter. "And thanks." 

In the meantime, upstairs, the sister of Paco had gotten out 
of the embrace of the matador as skillfully as a wa^estler breaking 
a hold and said now angry, "These are the hungry people. A failed 
bull fighter. With your tonload of fear. If you have so much of 
that use it in the ring." 

"That is the way a jputa talks." 

"A piita also is a woman, but I am not a puta,*^ 

"You'll be one." 

"Not through you." 

"Leave me," said the matador w^ho, now, repulsed and refused, 
felt the nakedness of his cowardice returning. 

"Leave you.^ What hasn't left you?" said the sister. "Don't you 
want me to make up the bed.? I'm paid to do that." 

"Leave me," said the matador, his broad good-looking face 
WTinkled into a contortion that w^as like crying. ^^Puta.'* 

"Matador," she said, shutting the door. "My matador." 

Inside the room the matador sat on the bed. His face still had 
the contortion w^hich, in the ring, he made into a constant smile 
which frightened those people in the first rows of seats who knew 
what they were watching. "And this," he was saying aloud. "And 
this ! And this !" 

He could remember when he had been good and it had only been 



28 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

three years before. He could remember the weight of the heavy 
fighting jacket on his shoulders on that hot afternoon in May when 
his voice had still been the same in the ring as in the cafe, and how 
he sighted along the point dipping blade at the place in the top of 
the shoulders where it was dusty in the short-haired, black hump 
of muscle above the wide, wood-knocking, splintered-tipped horns 
that lowered as he w^ent to kill, and how the sword pushed in as 
easy as into a mound of stiff butter with the palm of his hand push- 
ing the pommel, his left arm crossed low, his left shoulder forward, 
his weight on his left leg, and then his weight wasn't on his leg. His 
weight was on his lower belly and as the bull raised his head the 
horn was out of sight in him and he swung over on it twice before 
they pulled him off it. So now when he went in to kill, and it was 
seldom, he could not look at the horns and what did any puta 
know about what he went through before he fought ? And what had 
they been through that laughed at him? They were all putas, 

Down in the dining room the picador sat looking at the priests. 
If there were women in the room he stared at them. If there were 
no women he would stare with enjoyment at a foreigner, un ingles, 
but lacking women or strangers he now stared with enjoyment and 
insolence at the two priests. While he stared the birth-marked auc- 
tioneer rose and folding his napkin went out, leaving over half of 
the wine in the last bottle he had ordered. If his accounts had been 
paid up at the Luarca he would have finished the bottle. 

The two priests did not stare back at the picador. One of them 
was saying, "It is ten days since I have been here and all day I sit 
in the ante-chamber and he will not receive me." 
"What is there to do.?" 

"Nothing. What can one do? One cannot go against authority." 
"I have been here for two weeks and nothing." 
"We are from the abandoned country. When the travel money 
runs out we can return." 

"To the abandoned country." 

"One understands the action of our brother Basilio." 

"Madrid is where one learns to understand. Madrid kills Spain." 

"If they would simply see one and refuse." 

"No. You must be broken and worn out by waiting." 

"Well we shall see. I can wait as well as another." 

At this moment the picador got to his feet, walked over to the 



The Horns of the Bull 29 

priests' table and stood, grey-headed and hawk-faced, staring at 
them and smiling. 

"A torero," said one to the other. 

"And a good one," said the picador and walked out of the din- 
ing room, grey -jacketed, trim-waisted, bow-legged, in tight breeches 
over his cattleman's boots that clicked on the floor as he swaggered 
quite steadily, smiling to himself. He lit a cigar and tilting his hat 
at an angle in the hallway went out to the cafe. 

The priests left immediately after the picador, hurriedly con- 
scious of being the last people in the dining room, and there was no 
one in the room now but Paco and the middle-aged waiter. They 
cleared the tables and carried the bottles into the kitchen. 

In the kitchen was the boy who washed the dishes. He was three 
years older than Paco and was very cynical and bitter. 

"Take this," the middle-aged waiter said and poured out a glass 
of the Valdepeiias and handed it to him. 

"Why not?" the boy took the glass. 

"Tw, Paco?" the older w^aiter asked. 

"Thank you," said Paco. 

The three of them drank. 

*'I will be going," said the middle-aged waiter. 

^'Good night," they told him. 

He went out and they were alone. Paco took a napkin one of the 
priests had used and standing straight, his heels planted, lowered 
the napkin and, with head following the movement, swung his arms 
in the motion of a slow sweeping veronica. He turned and, advanc- 
ing his right foot slightly, made the second pass, gained a little 
terrain on the imaginary bull and made a third pass, slow, perfectly 
timed and suave, then gathered the napkin to his waist and swung 
his hips away from the bull in a media-veronica. 

The dishwasher, whose name was Enrique, watched this criti- 
cally and sneeringly. 

"How is the bull?" he said. 

"Very brave," said Paco. "Look." 

Standing slim and straight he made four more perfect passes, 
smooth, elegant and graceful. 

"And the bull?" asked Enrique standing against the sink, hold- 
ing his wine glass and wearing his apron. 

"Still has lots of gas," said Paco. 

"You make me sick," said Enrique. 



30 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Why?" 

"Look." Enrique removed his apron and citing the imaginary 
bull he sculptured four perfect, languid, gypsy veronicas and ended 
up with a rebolera that made the apron swing in a stiff arc past the 
bull's nose as he walked away from him. 

"Look at that," he said. "And I wash dishes." 

"Why?" 

"Fear," said Enrique. ^'M'ledo. The same fear you would have 
in a ring with a bull." 

"No," said Paco. "I wouldn't be afraid." 

^^Mierde,^' said Enrique, "everyone is afraid. But a torero can 
control his fear so that he can work the bull. I went in, in an ama- 
teur fight and I was so afraid I couldn't keep from running. Every- 
one thought it was very funny. So would you be afraid. If it wasn't 
for fear every bootblack in Spain would be a bull fighter. You, a 
country boy, would be frightened worse than I was." 

"No," said Paco. He had done it too many times in his imagina- 
tion. 

Too many times he had seen the horns, seen the bull's wet muz- 
zle, the ear twitching, then the head go down and the charge, the 
hoofs thudding, and the hot bulk pass him as he swung the cape, to 
re-charge as he swung the cape again, then again, and again, and 
again, to end winding the bull around him in his great media-ver- 
onica, and walk swingingly away with bull hairs caught in the gold 
ornaments of his jacket from the close passes, the bull standing 
hypnotized and the crowd applauding. No, he would not be afraid. 
Others, yes. Not him. He knew he would not be afraid. Even if he 
ever was afraid he knew that he could do it SLuywdLj. He had con- 
fidence. "I wouldn't be afraid," he said. 

Enrique said the word again that meant contempt. Then he 
said, "If we should try it?" 

"How?" 

"Look," said Enrique. "You think of the bull, but you do not 
think of the horns. The bull has such force that the horns rip like a 
knife, they stab like a bayonet, and they kill like a club. Look," he 
opened a table drawer and took out two meat knives. "I will bind 
these to the legs of a chair. Then I will play bull for you with the 
chair held before my head. The knives are the horns. If you make 
those passes then they mean something." 



The Horns of the Bull S% 

"Lend me your apron," said Paco. "We'll do it in the dming 



room." 



"No," said Enrique, suddenly not bitter. "Don't do it, Paco." 

"Yes," said Paco. "I'm not afraid." 

"You will be when you see the knives come." 

"We'll see," said Paco. "Give me the apron." 

At this time while Enrique was binding the two heavy-bladed 
razor-sharp meat knives fast to the legs of the chair with two soiled 
napkins holding the half of each knife, wrapping them tight and 
then knotting them, the two chambermaids, Paco's sisters, were on 
their way to the cinema to see Greta Garbo in Anna Christie, Of the 
two priests, one was sitting in his underwear reading his missal and 
the other was wearing a night shirt and saying the rosary. All the 
bull fighters except the one who was ill had made their evening 
appearance at the Cafe Fornos where the big, dark-haired picador 
was playing billiards. The short serious matador was sitting at a 
crowded table before a coffee and milk, along with the middle-aged 
banderillero and other serious workmen. 

The drinking, grey-headed picador was sitting with a glass of 
cazalas brandy before him staring with pleasure at a table where 
the matador whose courage was gone sat with another matador, who 
had renounced the sword, to become a banderillero again, and two 
very house-worn looking prostitutes. The auctioneer stood on the 
street corner talking with friends. The tall waiter was at the An- 
archo-Syndicalist meeting waiting for an opportunity to speak. 
The middle-aged waiter was seated on the terrace of the Cervezeria 
Alvarez drinking a small beer. The woman who owned the Luarca 
was already asleep in her bed where she lay on her back with the 
bolster between her legs, big, fat, honest, clean, easy-going, very 
religious and never having ceased to miss or pray daily for her 
husband dead, now, twenty years. In his room, alone, the matador 
who was ill lay face down on his bed with his mouth against a hand- 
kerchief. 

Now, in the deserted dining room, Enrique tied the last knot 
in the napkins that bound the knives to the chair legs and lifted 
the chair. He pointed the legs with the knives on them forward and 
held the chair over his head with the two knives pointing straight 
ahead, one on each side of his head. 

"It's heavy," he said. "Look, Paco. It is very dangerous. Don't 
do it." He was sweating. 



S2 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Pace stood facing him, holding the apron spread, holding a fold 
of it bunched in each hand, thumbs up, first finger down, spread to 
catch the eye of the bull. 

"Charge straight," he said. "Turn like a bull. Charge as many 
times as you want." 

"How w411 you know when to cut the pass?" asked Enrique. "It's 
better to do three and then a media." 

"All riglit," said Paco. "But come straight. Huh torito! Come 
on little bull !" 

Running with head down Enrique came toward him and Paco 
swung the apron just ahead of the knife blade as it passed close in 
front of his belly and, as it went by, it was, to him, the real horn, 
white tipped, black, smooth and as Enrique passed him and turned 
to rush again it was the hot, blood-flanked mass of the bull that 
thudded by, then whirled like a cat and came again as he swung 
the cape slowly. Then the bull turned again and, as he watched 
the onrushing point, he stepped his left foot two inches too far for- 
ward and the knife did not pass but had slipped in as easily as 
into a wine skin and there was a hot scalding rush above and around 
the sudden inner rigidity of steel and Enrique shouting, "Ay ! Ay ! 
Let me get it out ! Let me get it out !" and Paco slipped forward on 
the chair, the apron cape still held, Enrique pulling on the chair 
as the knife turned in him, in him, Paco. 

The knife was out now and he sat on the floor in the widening 
warm pool. 

"Put the napkin over it. Hold it !" said Enrique. "Hold it tight. 
I will run for tlie doctor. You must hold in the hemorrhage !" 

"There should be a rubber cup," said Paco. He had seen that 
used in the ring. 

"I came straight," said Enrique, crying. "All I wanted was to 
show the danger." 

"Don't worry," said Paco. "But bring the doctor ! Bring, bring 
the doctor." 

In the ring they lifted you and carried you, running with you, 
to the operating room. If the femoral artery emptied itself before 
you reached there they called the priest. 

"Advise one of the priests," said Paco holding the napkin tight 
against his lower abdomen. He could not believe that this had hap- 
pened to him, nor did his voice sound his own. 

But Enrique was running down the Carrera San Jeronimo to 



The Horns of the Bull 33 

the first aid station and Paco was alone, all through it, first sitting 
up, then huddled over, then slumped on the floor, until it was over, 
feeling his life go out of him as water empties from a bathtub when 
the plug is drawn. He was frightened and he felt faint and he tried 
to say an act of contrition and he remembered how it started but 
before he had said, as fast as he could, "Oh my God I am heartily 
sorry for having offended Thee who art worthy of all my love and 
I firmly resolve — " he felt too faint and could not remember and he 
was lying face down on the floor. It was over very quickly. A severed 
femoral artery empties itself faster than you can believe. 

As the doctor from the first aid station came up the stairs ac- 
companied by a policeman who held on to Enrique by the arm, the 
two sisters of Paco were still in the moving picture palace of the 
Gran Via where they were intensely disappointed in the Garbo 
film which showed the great star in miserable low surroundings when 
they had been accustomed to see her surrounded by great luxury 
and brilliance. The audience disliked the film thoroughly and were 
protesting by whistling and stamping their feet. All the other 
people from the hotel were doing almost what they had been doing 
when the accident happened, except that the two priests had finished 
their devotions and were preparing for sleep, and the grey-haired 
picador had moved his drink over to the table with the two house- 
worn prostitutes. A little later he went out of the cafe with one of 
them. It was the one for whom the matador who has lost his nerve 
had been buying drinks. 

The boy Paco had never known about any of this nor about 
what all these people would be doing on the next day and on other 
days to come. He died, as the Spanish phrase has it, full of illusions. 
He had not had time to lose any of them nor even time to complete 
an act of contrition. He had not even had time to be disappointed 
in the Garbo picture which disappointed all Madrid for a week. 



'Send JMe In, Coacn 

Ly F. Scott Fits;^era 



The scene is a recreation cottage of a summer camp, crossed pad- 
dles over the fireplace, shelf of cups, large plain table and several 
plain chairs and a blackboard. On the hoard is being written a word 
in large sprawling letters by a small, undersized boy in a bathing 
suit. The word is ''Wedoodle.^^ 

As the curtain rises a rather stout, overgrown boy of thirteen, 
also in a bathing suit, comes into the room and says ^'Hey,^^ caus- 
ing the other boy to seize the eraser hastily and obliterate his mys- 
terious polysyllable, 

Cassius: {the stout boy) What does "Wedoodle" mean? 

Bugs: (visibly embarrassed) Wedoodle? That's just a camp my 
sister goes to. 

Cassius: Must be a swell camp. Where's the Old Man? 

Bugs : I was just writing W^edoodle because there w^as some chalk 
here and I'm supposed to write her a letter because I got a letter 
this morning which said if I don't write her a letter I wouldn't get 
my quarter's allowance. 

Cassius: The Old Man not showed up? 

Bugs : I don't know. Say, I know my part — do you know yours? 

Cassius : I know some of it but I'll bet we don't have any play. 

Bugs: Why? 

Cassius: Because Bill's father was just tried in court and the 
guys in my tent say that Bill will probably be fired from camp. 

Bugs: What do you mean? 

Cassius : I got half of it ; somebody else got the other half. (He 
finds a piece of newspaper from his pocket and reads.) "Tlie ac- 
quittal of Cyrus K. Watchman" — that's Bill's father's name — "had 
had — had had — had had, had had — " 

Bugs: What did he have? 

Cassius: (a stupid boy, slow on the uptake) Well, he had this 
thing, see? 

Bugs: Well, if his father had this thing happen to him he'll get 
fired because the Old Man isn't in any good humor now and I guess 

34 



"Send Me In, Coach" 35 

if any of us did anything that wasn't all right he'd fire us right 
away. I tell you I'm glad I made up my tent right this morning. 

Henry Grady comes in. 

Henry: Where's the Old Man.? 

Cassius : He hasn't showed up. I came in here and I found Bugs 
writing Skedaaddle on the board. It's some camp his sister goes to. 
Some name, hey.^^ 

Bugs: {Indignantly) It wasn't Skedaddle; it was Wedoodle. 

Cassius: What's the diff erence .^^ Skedaddle, Wedoodle, Skedad- 
dle, Wedoodle — 

Bugs : Skedaddle doesn't make any sense. 

Cassius : I suppose Wedoodle makes a lot of sense. 

Bugs : Sure it does. It's the name of a camp. What's the sense of 
the name of our camp, Rahewawa? 

Cassius : But shucks, Rahewawa is a regular camp. 

Bugs : So's Skedaddle — I mean Wedoodle. 

Bill Watchman comes in. He is a cheerful hoy, full of energy 
and apparently quite unaware that his family has been featured in 
the public prints. 

Bill : All, right, fellows, let's get together. I met the Old Man 
on the way over and he said to go ahead. Does everybody know 
their parts .f^ 

Bugs : I only got two lines. The best one is when I say {quoting) , 
"Mr. Jenkins says the team's ready to go to bat down there. 
Doctor." 

Bill : Well, he w^ants us to run through it once before he gets 
over here. 

The face of a handsome young man of twenty appears mo- 
mentarily at the door, 

Rickey: {the young man) You guys ought to be able to go on 
under your own steam ; you ought to be old enough so you don't 
have to be w^atched over. How about rehearsing this thing, so we 
can give your play decent? 

The hoys are instantly on their feet. 

Boys : All right, Mr. Rickey. 

When he goes the excitement subsides gradually. 

Henry : When my father brought me up here he said, "I don't 
know about the head man but if they are all like that counselor I 
know you're going to be happy up here." 

Cassius : He certainly is a swell guy. Boy ! 



86 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Bugs: (at the blackboard) Guess the Old Man's wife thinks so. 

Bugs draxcs a large heart on the board and erases it just as 
Cassius produces from his pocket a much mangled part or rather 
two parts for it has been torn in half and he can read it only by a 
process of heavy concentration. 

Henry: Let's begin. 

They move the table so that Cassius is sitting behind it vn a^ 
judicial attitude. 

Henry: {feeling his pockets) Shucks, I forgot my part. 

Bill : You ought to know it by this time. 

Bugs: I don't really liave to have any part because I only got 
two lines. One of them is, "Mr. Jenkins says the team's ready — " 

Henry : Shut up, Bugs. Come on, let's get going, Cassius. 

He stands tentatively at one corner of the table, dashes to an- 
other corner and then goes back to the first corner. 

Cassius : Well, I'm ready. 

Henry : Well go on then ; you got the first line. 

Cassius: (reading from his notes) "So then, Playfair, you are 
your own worst enemy." 

Henry: No, that comes later. It's the upper half of the sheet. 

Cassius : Oh yeah, I started to write home on this the other night. 
(coughs) "So, coach, you think we cannot win without Playfair?" 

Henry: "It all depends on him, Doctor McDougall. He is our 
best pitcher and speed ball delivery artist and say, brother, is he 
good at the bat. If we are to beat St. Berries we need his services 
badly." 

Bugs: Now do I- — 

Bill : Shut up. Bugs. Go on, Cassius. 

Cassius: (fumbling with his notes) "So then, Playfair, you are 
your own — " No, I see what you mean you want to start from the 
beginning. "So, coach, you think we cannot win w^ithout Playfair." 
Oh you know all that stuff anyhow. 

Henry: What's my cue? Oh yes. "Doctor McDougall, I hap- 
pened to stop by the school post office and while asking for my mail 
they gave me this for you." 

Cassius goes through biisiness of adjusting glasses a/nd openvng 
a letter. He bends over as if reading the letter. 

Cassius: (reading) "So, Playfair, you are your own worst en- 
emy — " Say, I can't read without some kind of letter. I keep read- 
ing my part all the time. 



"Send Me In, Coach" 3T 

Bill: Here's a letter. Pretend that's it. Say, I'm very glad we 
can go on without any supervision and do the thing because we feel 
we ought to. Don't you feel that way ? 

He hands a letter to Cassius, 

The Old Mcon, an ex-athlete of sixty or thereabouts, comes in 
with young Rickey, a bland, suave, blond young man who looks like 
all the coast guards in the world. Rickey is imipatient and full of 
nervous energy. He makes a sort of energetic spring, signifying 
nothing, and gooses Bill and Henry toward the door. 

The Old Man : I think we're not going to have a rehearsal to- 
day, boys, I think we're going to postpone this rehearsal until a lot 
later. 

Bill : Aren't we going to rehearse the play today ? 

Rickey: Hold your horses. {He turns to the Old Man.) Want 
to go in my bedroom? 

The Old Man: No. Now, boys, I'm sorry to have to interrupt 
your rehearsal. What was that little play you were doing? 

Henry: We just as soon not do it because all of us are drawn 
for the swimming trials, two of us for the canoe and two — 

The Old Man: Oh I want you all to do this play later. It'll 
bring a lot of credit on the camp and next Monday is parents' day. 
Do you all know your parts? 

Bugs: {from the doorway) I know my part complete. I was 
just thinking if I have just my two lines to say, I needn't come to 
rehearsal and could go to first swimming instead. 

The Old Man : Now we have to have all four boys here because 
it's supposed to be a play for four boys. You'll just have to learn 
to be patient, Trevellion. Now you can go to swimming and I want 
Bill to wait just outside the door. 

The boys go out and the txoo men are now aloTie in the room. 

The Old Man: I suppose you think you are indispensable to 
us, don't you? 

Rickey: Well, Doc, I got marks all over my face from playing 
heads up football and I'll play anywhere, in the line or out of it. 
My father he's got sense and I go back and sleep in the same bed 
with him in the fall and he says some of these men go in there and 
get two thousand, five thousand, ten thousand, and I go up to the 
State with you and what do I get? 

The Old Man: You get your board and tuition. 

Rickey: Yes, but what I mean to say is what do you get? You 



38 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

tauglit me a lot, I know that, but I could throw a pass like a base- 
ball forty-five yards before I ever saw you. Gimme a ball now and 
I'll show you. 

The Old Man: (patiently) When I go up to college this fall 
it's understood that you go with me. I thought that had all been 
agreed upon. 

Rickey: Sure I'll go with you. Eleven other boys that learned 
the game in normal school. (He spits contemptuously.) I know what 
everyone got. I know what Lawson's got, I know what Cathcart's 
got. They come out clean and take the sorority girls out in the 
niglit-time. Sure they do. They go in with one shoulder out and 
the eyes closed. Needn't tell me how you played football at Michi- 
gan — do 3^ou think I like going around with my nose broken Sunday, 
Monday and Tuesday? 

The Old Man: Shut up now, shut up now. 

Rickey: Oh shut up and have all these kids admire me. 

The Old Man: I know football is different than it was in my 
day. I didn't know what fear was. 

Rickey : I don't know what fear is. I know where a play's going. 
My business is to bump into a play so where I go there isn't going 
to be any more play. 

The Old Man: That's why you're a great football player. I 
thought we'd agreed on everything. 
Rickey: Agreed, hell. 

The Old Man : Don't talk so loud. You know what I wanted to 
ask you. Stay away from my wife; she's only a baby and don't 
know what she's doing. 

Rickey: Then why did you marry her? Go on, anything you 
say, I'm willing to leave. I can go up to Temple maybe. 

The Old Man: (earnestly) Well, let's give these kids some ex- 
ample of decency, (at the door) Hi, boys, we're going on with the 
play. Start right in where you left off. 

The boys come in, 

Cassius : I can still use your letter, can't I, Bill? 

Bill: Sure. 

Cassius : Well let's go on. 

The boys go directly to n>orl\ The Old Man nods at Rickey — a 
gesture that Rickey retiu^ns with a somewhat insolent wink. They 
go out. 

Cassius: "Dear Dr. McDougall, we have heard that your star 



"Send Me In, Coach'' 89 

athlete, Dick Playfair, was a star in professional baseball this sum- 
mer and therefore cannot compete against our team in the game 
this afternoon. Sincerely yours, Hiram Jones, President, St. Berries 
College." 

Henry: (in a great flurry of acting,) "What horrible news. 
Doctor! This means we haven't a chance. We might as well give 
them the ball game now. But what proof have they?" 

Cassius: "He gives plenty of proof here." {He fumbles for a 
moment) "Playfair, you are your own worst enemy — " Now wait a 
minute it goes over to the other side. "He has positive proof." 

Henry: "I would not care so much for the loss of eleven men 
but this man. When he begged me to send him into the game it 
would become different. Playfair would take the pigskin and before 
anyone had known it would run the full length of the field. I have 
coached many teams in my time — " 

Cassius : "Go away ; leave me to my thoughts. Send Playfair to 
me." Now this is the place I was supposed to walk up and down. 
"The integrity of my school means more to me than the athletic suc- 
cess of my teams upon the iplajing field." (He studies his manu- 
script.) "Now, stay a moment." You know you're supposed to stick 
around now. 

Henry : I know perfectly well what I'm supposed to do. You're 
supposed to walk up and down. Why don't you walk up and down.^ 

Cassius: How about giving me a chance.^ Anyway it says Bugs 
here. 

Bugs: {turning from the blackboard) I haven't got anything to 
do till Jenkins goes out. 

Cassius: Well, anyway it says something that looks like Bugs. 
(resuming his perusal of the manuscript) "Well let us go on with 
what material we have and atone by sheer something for anything 
we may have lost or something." (He sighs and puts down paper.) 
"I am afraid we must lose a game for once." 

The Old Man puts his head in at the doorway. 

The Old Man : All right, boys — I'm glad you are going ahead 
on your own. I want to get the canoes off and I'll be with you in 
no time. 

The head disappears. 

Henry: Gosh, let's quit this. Let's wait till Cassius learns his 
part. 

Bugs : Why not go on till we get to my line. 



40 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Bill : Give me back that letter from my father. I haven't really 
read it and you're getting it all mixed up with your part. 

Cassius: (handing over the letter and at the same time bringing 
out the clipping) I thought you might want to see this, Bill. It's got 
a lot about your father. (He reads:) "Mr. Watchman seemed de- 
pressed during the trial even though it was increasingly apparent 
that he would be acquitted. He was like a man who had lost all in- 
terest." 

Bugs at the blackboard has just written the first two syllables of 
Wedoodle, Bill, looks once more at the letter, evidently confused. 

Bill: I guess my father's going away — for a long trip, maybe 
to Europe probably. Gee, this is the nutsiest letter. 

Henry: Well, what'll we do, rehearse some more? 

Bill: (absently) Sure, we might as well. (He walks to the side 
of the stage, the letter still in his hand, reading half aloud.) "Good 
bye and good bye and good bye. Some day when you are grown 
you will forgive all this." 

Cassius: What are you talking to yourself about? 

Bill: Nothing (He tucks the letter into his pocket and says:) 
Well come on, let's rehearse. 

Cassius resumes his place at the table, 

Cassius : I'm willing. 

Henry : "Well, the game must go on. I will tell the boys to get 
their bats and balls ready." 

Cassius : "Do, and send young Playf air to me. He and I must 
have a word or two about this." 

Henry walks from the scene, replaced immediately by Bugs, all 
eager and ready to go. 

Bugs: "Mr. Jenkins says the team's ready to go to bat down 
there, Doctor." 

Cassius: (confused) I haven't got that or I haven't got any 
answer — 

Bill: Oh yes, that's me. (He draws himself up.) I come in now. 
"Good morning. Dr. McDougall." 

Cassius: "Sit down, sir. I hear bad news of you." 

Bill : "I was afraid so. Doctor." 

Cassius : "Why did you do this, playing professional ball when 
you were still a student at Crescent Range? Was it for sordid 
money?" 



"Send Me In, Coach" 41 

Bill: (shaking his head) "No, sir. I'd rather lose my arm than 
play for money — but I can't tell." 

Cassius: (standing up quickly) "Then I think you had better 
leave the school." (The other character's move out of the room with 
an compression of alarm, then come back when they realize that this 
is part of the play.) "You are no longer a fit companion for my 
other pupils. Contamination once abroad smells like a verminal 
plague." (He eyes his manuscript.) Say that can't be right. "Con- 
tamination once abroad spreads like a veritable plague. Do you 
think you can have your baggage ready for the school bus this 
afternoon to take you into Troy?" 

Bill: "Yes, sir." 

Bugs : That's near Wedoodle. 

Cassius : There isn't a single line in my whole part that has any- 
thing about Wedoodle in it. 

Bugs: I just thought so because the towTi my sister's camp's in 
is somewhere near Troy. 

Bill: Since our parents have spent money to send us here I 
think we should take advantage of every single advantage that we 
have while we are here. Now this is a play that's supposed to teach 
us how to be fine actors in the future or if we don't want to be fine 
actors — well to be fine actors in any case. 

Henry : Shall we go on ? 

Cassius: "You have been a good student here, Playfair, and 
I regret to take this step. The other boys looked up at you." 

Henry : Like we look up at Mr. Rickey. 

Cassius: (Studying the manuscript) It doesn't say anything 
about Mr. Rickey here. 

Henry : You're as crazy as Bugs. 

Cassius: Aw go jump in the lake. 

Henry : Just w^hat I'd like to do. 

Bill: No, fellows we got to stay here till the Old Man comes 
back. 

Cassius: Well I can't walk up and down when I have this 
paper in my hand can I? (Nevertheless he rises and walks up and 
down.) All I can remember is a line I read in Bill's letter, "Good 
bye and good bye and good bye." But I couldn't put that in th^ 
play, could I? 

Bill: That next line is something about "Playfair, you are 
your own worst enemy." 



4)^ EsquIre^s Second Sports Readei' 

Cassius: "Playfair, you are your own worst enemy." (He sighs 
a great breath of relief.) 

Bill: "Doctor McDougall, you don^t understand it all." 

Bugs : Now wait a minute. Here's where I come in. (Bugs makes 
a quick circle of the room and intrudes upon the scene.) "Mr. Cas- 
sius says the team's ready — " I mean, "Mr. Jenkins says the team's 
ready to go to bat down there. Dr. McDougall." 

Bill: "All right, I will tell you, I must tell you. There was a 
mountain settlement near my residence and they were trying to 
raise money for a schoolhouse. They needed a fast shortstop. I 
wanted to play for Crescent Range but I yielded because I wanted 
the school children to learn to read and write. I guess I was guilty." 

Bugs : You're supposed to get up here now, Cassius. 

Cassius: Don't tell me now. I know all this part of my part. 
"Well, well, we must reconsider. Well, well, we must reconsider." 

Bugs: I never knew what I was supposed to do here, just stand 
or get out. 

Henry: Write on the blackboard. 

Cassius: "Well, well, we must reconsider. Well, well, we must 
reconsider." I tell you it's the walking up and down that tells on 
you. Oh yes, I've got it. "Playfair, you are your own worst enemy 
— Playfair, we must reconsider." 

Bugs at the board has begun to write Wedoodle, The Old Man 
comes in. 

The Old Man: Boys, we're not going to have any more re- 
hearsal this morning. Go along. I want to see Bill Watchman alone 
for a minute. 

Bill: We did pretty well, almost up to the end. 

Bugs makes a last dash at his blackboard and joins the others on 
the way out. 

The Old Man : Bill, I have a telegram here that will make a 
great difference in your life and I want you to be a brave boy 
when you hear the news in it. 

Bill: Is it about my father saying good bye? I had a letter 
and he said "Good bye, good bye, good bye." 

The Old Man : Yes, he said good bye, because he's gone away 
on a long long journey. Bill, you are old enough for me to tell 
you things that other people might tell you later in a cruder form. 
Your father is dead. 

Bill: I knew my father was dead. 



"Send Me In, Coach" 43 

The Old Man: How did you know. Bill? 

Bill: I just knew he was dead. I never ought to of left home 
this summer. 

The Old Man : Bill, your father took his own life. 

Bill: I don't understand what you mean took his own life. 

The Old Man: He killed himself. 

Bill : Do I have to go home now, or, I mean wherever I'm going? 

The Old Man: I don't know yet. Of course you'll stay here 
till we see what arrangements are going to be made. 

Bill: I don't want to go home. I want to stay here forever. I 
think Mr. Rickey is the most wonderful man in the world. I'd like 
to be able to dive like him. I know I can never be as great as to be 
able to do a two and a half or even a one and a half like Mr. Rickey. 
And I want to be like you too. If I could ever be like Mr. Rickey 
just once. 

The Old Man : Mr. Rickey is a very fine athlete. 

Bill: It's like in the play. Sir, can't we just go on with it? 

The Old Man: You mean now? 

Bill {'passionately) Yes, now. I don't want to think about my 
father. Can't we just rehearse now as if nothing had happened 
and not tell anybody what happened? I won't cry. I knew my father 
was dead last night. 

The Old Man: {thoughtfully) Well of course if you think you 
want to do that — {He goes to the door and calls.) Hey, you down 
there, send those boys back for the festival play, Henry and Bugs 
and Cassius. {He goes and puts his arm around BilVs shoulder.) 
You like it here, don't you. Bill? And we have been glad having 
you these four summers. Sometimes you've been your own worst 
enemy. 

Bill : You won't tell any of the rest of them will you ? 

The Old Man: They'll realize how you feel. No one will say 
anything to you. 

{Henry, Cassius and Bugs come in.) 

The Old Man : We've decided to go on with the rehearsal. Now 
let's start from the beginning. All ready? 

Cassius takes his place behind the desJc, 

Cassius: "So, coach, you think we cannot win without Play- 
fair?" 

Henry : "It all depends on him. Dr. McDougall. He is our best 



44 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

pitcher and speed ball delivery artist and say, brother, is he good 
at the bat. If we are to beat St. Berries we need his services badly." 

Bugs: "Out!" 

They oil looJc toward lilm qwestioningly, 

Henry: What's that? 

Bugs : Well, that's the other line I've got that I'm supposed to 
yell from the window when Playfair makes a triple play. 

The Old Man : He hasn't made it j^et. 

Bugs: But I don't know where he's supposed to make it so I 
thought I'd just say it once in a while. 

The Old Man : No, Trevellion, that's not the way we work here. 
We wait till the man is out before we think he's out. Henry, go to 
the window. 

Henry: Yes, sir. 

The Old Man : Is Mr. Rickey out in the canoes ? 

Henry: Yes, sir, I'm almost sure it's Mr. Rickey. 

The Old Man: (sighs) All right. Now let's go on with the 
play. Now, Cassius, I don't think you're getting the full effect with 
the part. Let's begin from the beginning. 

Cassius: All right, sir. "So, Playfair, you are your own worst 
enemy." 

Bugs has gone to the hoard and in very small letters is tenta- 
tively sketching in Wedoodle, Bill has gone to the side of the stage 
and straddled a chair leaning his head forward on his arms, his 
shoulders shaking a little. 

The Old Man : No. Now it ought to be more like this. 

He pushes Cassius out of the way and sits down at the table as 
the curtain falls. 



The Grandstand Complex 
Ly Horace McCoy 



Tony Lukatovich had finished the Florida season a few points 
ahead of me, but I had got them back (with plenty to spare) the 
first four weeks in Los Angeles. That L. A. track was made to 
order for me. I had so much confidence in it, and in my jap motor, 
that after the first week I stopped wearing the steel cap on my left 
foot and the polo belt I used to protect my abdomen. This made it 
more dangerous for me in case of a bad spill, but it looked spec- 
tacular to the crowds. You have to be a showman to be a success in 
motorcycle racing. Finally, to live up to the publicity I was getting 
in the newspapers, and to prove that my winning of last year's 
national championship was no accident, I discarded my crash hel- 
met, substituting a simple leather helmet such as aviators wear. 
Everybody said I was a damn fool for doing this. If my head ever 
smacked the track or the guard-rail at fifty-five or sixty that leather 
helmet would have been absolutely no protection. My skull would 
have cracked like an egg shell. I knew that and so did the crowd. 
The majority came out just to hear somebody's skull crack (you 
may not think you can hear a skull crack with all those exhausts 
popping, but you can, you most certainly can) or to see somebody's 
brains spilled in the dirt, but so far the customers had been dis- 
appointed. At the end of the first four weeks I was the big favorite 
in L. A. I was out in front in individual points, and with the Long 
Beach team matches coming up, and the national awards but a 
month away, I looked like a cinch to repeat the championship. 

Tony Lukatovich was very jealous of my popularity and you 
would have thought that every point I collected was a year off his 
life. He had been the runner-up in the national last year and he 
had definitely made up his mind he was not going to finish second 
again. I don't think he wanted the championship title as much as 
he did the glory that went with it. He was a grandstander, a great 
grandstander. He was a great rider too, but it was the cheers of 
the crowd he wanted. These were meat and drink to him. Give him a 
crowd big enough and let them all root for him and he was the 
greatest motorcycle racer who ever lived. He would pull turns and 

45 



46 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

slides and finishes that none of the others of us would even dare 
think about. In Florida when he was leading in points and was the 
star attraction, where the crowd was for him to a man, he was a 
broadsiding maniac. He was more than that ; he was a genius. 

But the Florida track was short, one-sixth of a mile, and the 
L. A. track was longer, one-fifth of a mile. Those 72 yards made 
a difference. On the longer track Tony's judgment, his intuition, 
was a fraction bad. His timing slipped just enough to keep him 
from winning consistently. 

"It's only your imagination," I told him one day, lying, trying 
to cheer him up. 

"I haven't got any imagination. You're the guy who's got all 
the imagination. You go to hell," he said. 

"All right, if that's the way you feel about it," I said. "I was 
only trying to help you out." 

"I don't need any help from you," he said. "You go to hell." 

After that he got nastier and nastier and finally I stopped 
speaking to him at all. Then he began taking all sorts of reckless 
chances on the turns and doing trick riding in the home stretch, 
trying to show up the rest of us. But instead of impressing the 
crowds with his ability he only gave them the idea that he was 
a wild man out there trying to kill some of the other riders. 

I never did get really sore at him because I knew what was 
the matter. He simply wanted to become a favorite with the cus- 
tomers and get them pulling for him. He was starving for lack 
of glory. But the harder he tried the worse he looked. In every 
race I was knocking his ears down. I was concentrating on piling 
up all the points I possibly could so that if I had a spill that put 
me in the hospital I would have enough points to coast to the 
championship. I didn't expect to go to the hospital; I mean I 
wasn't looking forward to it, but in motorcycle racing you never 
can tell, especially when you have a wild man who hates your guts 
riding behind you. 

Tony was trying so desperately to win, was looking so bad, 
the committee notified him that unless he got back some of his old- 
time form they would have to give him a handicap. This was like 
telling Joe Louis that unless he improved they were going to match 
him with Barney Ross. Tony raved and yelled and screamed and 
put on an act in front of the stands, challenging the committee to 
a fight, individually or collectively, kicking up the dirt and throw- 



The Grandstand Complex 47 

ing his equipment all over the infield. He rushed over to the loud- 
speaker microphone and was trying to make a speech to the crowd 
when Jack Gurling, the promoter, collared him and threatened 
him with a suspension. That cooled Mr. Lukatovich, but I knew 
from the look of his face that there was blood on the moon. 

That night after the races he came over to my room. I in- 
vited him in, thinking he probably wanted to talk things over. 

"The team races with Long Beach are next week," he said. 

"That's right," I said. 

"And you and I race again as the No. 1 team.^" 

"I suppose we do," I said. 

"And if we win this time we get permanent possession of the 
cups .?" 

"That's right. We've got two legs on 'em now and if we win 
this time we get permanent possession. Did you get back your 
cup from your mother.?" 

Tony always sent all the trophies and cups he won back home 
to his mother in Ohio, so she could show the neighbors how well 
he was going. 

"No, I didn't," he replied. 

"You didn't? Don't you think you ought to get it?" 

"I can't," he said. "It would break her heart. She thinks it's 
mine already." 

"It probably will be," I said, "but if we should happen to lose 
it might be embarrassing for you not to have the cup." 

"We won't lose," he said. But I didn't come over here to talk 
about that. I want to talk about us — you and me." 

"Go ahead," I told him. 

"Do you think you're a better rider than I am?" he asked. 

"How do you think I won the championship last year — ^with 
cigarette coupons?" 

"You think you are then?" 

"I don't think anything about it. I know damn well I am." 

"Do you think you've got as much nerve as I have?" 

"I wouldn't know much about that. But I've got more skill, 
which is a damn sight more important." 

"All you've got is a swelled head," he said. "Why have you 
got it in for me?" 

"You must be daffy," I said. "I haven't got it in for you. The 
only trouble with you is you're jealous. As long as you're the fair- 



48 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

haired boy with the fans and get all the newspaper publicity, every- 
thing is roses. The moment somebody else does, you curl up. You 
can't take it, Tony." 

"Is that so.^" he said, jumping up, grabbing me by the coat 
lapel. 

"Sit down," I said. He had that blood-on-the-moon look on his 
face again. "I don't know what's eating you," I said, "but whatever 
it is, I don't want any part of it. Suppose you beat it." 

He said nothing, standing there and looking at me with his eyes 
glittering. 

"Go on, beat it," I said. "Whatever grudges we've got we'll 
settle out there on the track." 

"That's exactly what I want to do," he said. "That's exactly 
why I came here. I'm going to make you a proposition. I'll see how 
much nerve you've got." 

I knew this was going to be something that was very screwy. 

"There's no doubt," he said, "that we're the two best motor- 
cycle racers in the world." 

'That's right. I'm the best and you're the second best," I said. 
'Okay. We'll make a bet on it." 

"You know I don't bet," I said. 

"Not money," he said smiling, shaking his head. "Not money. 
You. Bet yourself." 

"I don't get you," I said. 

"Your life. You," he said. "You and I race together in the 
team matches. If you win I'll kill myself. If I win you kill yourself. 
That'll leave the winner the biggest star in the game." 

"Nothing doing," I said. 

"Why not? There's nothing new about duels — they've been 
fighting them for hundreds of years. The other day I read in the 
paper about a couple of miners in Europe fighting a duel with 
sledge-hammers. That's all this is — a duel. With motorcycles." 

"This is the goofiest thing I ever listened to," I said. "Nothing 
doing." 

"I told you I had more nerve than you did," he said. 

"It's not a question of nerve — " 

"Oh, yes, it is." 

"Oh, no, it's not. It's that grandstand complex of yours. You'd 
rather be dead than to be second best." 

"I'm slowly dying, anyway," he said. 






The Grandstand Complex 49 

"You go right ahead and die," I told him. "Me, I'm having 
a fine time living." 

"Well, then, it's all settled," he said, turning to go. "Let's 
shake hands on it," he said, sticking out his hand. 

"Why should I shake hands with you?" I asked. "You hate 
my guts." 

"Sure, I do, sure, I do," he said smiling; "but that's got noth- 
ing to do with it. Gentlemen always shake hands when they make 
a bet." 

"I haven't made any bet," I said, getting sore. 

"Oh, yes, you have. The team race Friday night — the race for 
life. Whoever loses kills himself." 

He stood there smiling, his hand stuck out, waiting for my 
shake. 

"Beat it the hell out of here," I said. 

"Is it yes or no?" he asked, not moving. 

"Beat it—" I said. 

"All right, I'll beat it. But this is going to ruin you. I'm going 
to spread the word around to everybody, the newspaper reporters 
and everybody, that you're yellow. I'm going to tell them about 
the proposition to fight a duel with motorcycles and how you were 
too yellow to take me up on it because you thought you might lose 
and have to kill yourself. This'll ruin you." 

Suddenly it dawned on me that he was right. This would ruin 
me. People wouldn't stop to figure it was a screwy proposition, 
they'd really think I was yellow. Soon they'd have me believing it 
myself. 

"You polack ," I said, stepping over, 

hitting him in the face again. He grabbed me, trying to hold on, 
but I shook him loose and began punching him in the head with 
my fists. He grabbed me again and we fell over a chair, breaking 
it, wrestling on the floor. I finally climbed to my feet, dragging 
him with me, and started punching him in the face some more. 
Then he grabbed me again, trying to hold on. I got loose and 
hit him back of the ear and he fell to the floor unconscious, his 
arms doubled under his stomach. 

"Well," my mind said, "you've knocked him out and where did 
it get you? He's still got that axe over you. The only way to stop 
whatever is going to happen from actually happening is to cut 
the guy's tongue out. The minute he starts talking everybody 



50 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

will think you are yellow and they'll all go over to his side ... It 
looks like you'll have to accept the challenge." 

"I suppose so," I replied to myself. 

"The thing to do," my mind said, "is to win." 

"I'll win, all right," I said. "I certainly don't want to have 
to commit suicide." 

I got a wet towel out of the bathroom and rolled Tony over 
and began rubbing his face and wrists and pretty soon he came to. 

"I'm okay," he said, sitting up. 

"There's just one thing," I said. "If I do win this race how 
do I know you won't welsh?" 

"Don't worry," he said, pushing himself up off the floor. "I 
won't welsh and neither will you. We'll shake hands like gentlemen 
do." 

He stuck out his hand. I took it. 

"All right, you polack ■■ ," I said. "Now 

beat it." 

* * * 

There was a big crowd out for the team races, many of them 
coming from Long Beach to back their own riders. There was a 
lot of money bet on the races this year by the Long Beach fans 
because our second, third and fourth teams were weaker than usual. 
The men who had been our No. ^ team last year, and who had 
won easily, both had been killed on the Florida track. Tony and I 
looked like cinches to beat our men, but we weren't so sure about 
the other teams. 

About 7:30 that night Tony came in the shed where I was 
tightening up my chain. 

"How do you feel?" he asked. It was the first time he had 
spoken to me since the fight. 

"Swell," I said, "just perfectly — damn swell. How do you feel?" 

"I feel fine," he said. 

"You won't feel so fine when Gurling finds you," I said. "He's 
been asking me questions about your cup." 

"Look," he said, "everything will be all right if we win. One 
of us has got to win. I told Gurling my mother had mailed the cup 
but that it just hadn't got here yet." 

"Suppose we lose?" I asked. 

"We can't lose," he said. "One of us has got to win. Not only 



The Grandstand Complex 51 

for the cup, but for another reason too. Did you keep your dinner 
down tonight?" he asked, leaning over. 

"What was that?" I asked suddenly, turning around, pretend- 
ing I had heard something. "That was a peculiar noise. Is anybody 
rattling dice in here? Oh, excuse me," I said, looking at Tony. "It's 
you." 

"Me?" he said, surprised. 

"It's your teeth I hear," I said. 

"You go to hell," he said, crossing to where his mechanics 
were checking his motor . . . 

The first event on the program was a handicap race for Class 
B riders, boys who had ridden only a few events. The next event 
was a four-lap heat, the first three to transfer to Event 7, the 
handicap semi-finals. I won this race in 1 :05 :10, pretty good time. 
The third event was an exhibition by some local trick-riding jock- 
ies. Tony was in Event 4, the first three in this also to transfer to 
Event 7. He won the heat in 1 :06 flat. Events 5 and 6 were for 
novice riders. 

Tony and I were the only ones to start from scratch in Event 
7, one of the two feature races of the night. This event was run 
in two heats, the first three in each heat to transfer to the final 
event, four laps, the points to count towards the national cham- 
pionship. 

Tony and I sat in our saddles on the scratch line, saying noth- 
ing, six feet apart, while the announcer introduced us. I got the 
most applause. I looked at Tony, winking. 

"It won't be long now," he said, winking back. 

*'Don't let him get your goat," my mind told me. 

**Fat chance," I replied. 

The starter's gun popped and my two mechanics shoved. My 
motor caught on the first shove. 

"Good old jap," I said to myself, giving her the gun. 

There were two men in front of me. They were both handicap 
men. One had started from thirty yards ahead of the scratch line 
and the other from twenty-five. I wasn't much worried about them, 
they were kids on the way up and I knew I could outgut them 
in a pinch. But I went right after them anyway, not taking any 
chances. I trailed them a full lap before I could cut down the 
handicap and on the back stretch I hung on their tails waiting 
for a hole at the turn. One of them skidded a little and I shot 



52 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

through. I trailed the leader dowTi the stretch, but I took him on 
the front turn and went ahead. In a moment I got a flash out of 
the corner of my eye and I knew it was Tony making his bid. I 
hugged the inside railing, hoping he didn't lose his head and crash 
me. Tony was a maniac when he was desperate. With some riders 
you can make a close race out of it and give the fans a good finish 
and a run for their money, but not with Tony. Stay just as far in 
front of him as you possibly could, was my motto. 

I beat him into the finish by a length. I went on around the 
track and went through the gate into the pits. 

There was one other event before the team race — the race that 
meant the finish for either me or Tony. I had six or seven minutes 
before we w^ere to go out, so I walked around, trying to tell myself 
there was nothing to get nervous about. I got a hot dog and a 
bottle of pop, trying to put my mind on the movies or women or 
something; anything except what depended on the outcome of the 
duel. The taste of mustard in the hot dog nauseated me and for a 
minute I thought I would have to check my dinner. I gagged on 
the pop, finally throwing it away too. 

"What the hell is this?" I asked myself. "Why am I so nervous? 
I've never been nervous before. I can beat that guy any day in 
the week." 

"Let's go," said one of my mechanics. 

^'It's not time yet," I said. 

"Sure, it is," he said. "The other race is finished. Come on — " 

There was more applause when I came out onto the track. 
Tony and the Long Beach riders were already there. Red Dooley 
and Paul Jarvis, two top-notchers, not champions yet, but a couple 
of boys who were getting better every hour. I gave my motor to 
my mechanics, moving up to the starting line where they were 
waiting to toss for positions. Tony and I both lost and had to 
take the second and fourth positions. The Long Beach crowd 
whooped it up at this. 

"Toss for us," Tony said to the starter. "You call it," he said 
to me. 

"Never mind," I said. "You can have two." 

*'Okay," he said, not even thanking me. 

"That was a silly thing to do," my mind said a moment after 
I had uttered the words. "Why didn't you toss with him? No. 4 is 
on the outside, the worst position on the track. You've deliberately 



The Grandstand Complex 83 

put yourself in a hole in the most important race you ever rode in 
your life." 

There was a lot of yelling . . . and then we were off. The others 
got away first. My motor didn't fire at once. 

''Good God !" I thought. 

My mechanics shoved again, harder, and this time the motor 
caught. The others were going into the turn, twenty yards ahead. 
This was a terrific handicap to give good riders and I knew I was 
up against it. 

I settled down to business, telling myself not to get panicky, 
and eased into the first turn. But on the back stretch I opened up, 
swinging high on the outside to keep my goggles from fouling 
from the dirt the front riders were kicking up. At the turn I 
dropped down into the slot, figuring Paul Jarvis, just in front of 
me, would be a little too anxious and would go in a little too fast 
to hold his line and would therefore slide a little. He did. He left 
two feet between him and the inside railing and I went through 
without shutting off. But the impetus carried me to the outside 
again and I had to shut off and skid to keep from hitting the wall. 
I laid my left toe on the ground, pulling my motor over at an angle 
of about thirty degrees. I heard a gasp go up from the stands. I 
eased my handle-bars over, opening up in the home stretch. 

Tony was in second place, a full length behind Dooley. I was 
still twenty yards back of Tony. I was in a rotten spot. We had 
three laps left, just three, and I knew I was going to need every- 
thing I had to win this race. My motor was all right now that she 
was rolling — it was the best racing jap in the world. This time it 
was up to me. 

I took the front turn wide open, laying my motor over my left 
knee, listening for that first faint whirr that tells you the traction 
is slipping. When you hear that you want to get it up in a hurry, 
else you will have the whole thing suddenly in your lap. 

... I fought and fought, took chances I had never taken before, 
used all my skill, all my anticipation, but I was getting nowhere. 
I had managed to cut off a few yards, but I was not close enough 
to make my bid. I felt satisfied this was the greatest race I had 
ever ridden. I would have been in front by the same distance I was 
now behind if I hadn't lost that one or two seconds getting started. 

On the third lap Tony took the back turn wide open, a stupid 
thing to do, and lost a couple of yards in a slide. I picked up this 



54 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

much on him, going down the stretch so close that my front wheel 
almost touched his rear wheel. On the front turn of the last lap 
Dooley made his first mistake — ^he hit a patch of soft dirt that he 
should have spotted before now, and slid across it. It was a very 
short slide but for an instant his back w^heel spun and in that in- 
stant Tony and I had pulled up on him. It happened in the tick 
of a clock. 

We went into the back stretch at top speed. Tony knew I was 
behind him and tried to shake me off, but I held on, hoping he 
would slide in the turn so I could take him. This was my final 
chance to win ; if it didn't happen I was a gone gosling. 

I eased over to the right a trifle to get set for the jump. Dooley 
was swinging wide now, trying to play safe, and I saw Tony follow 
him over. 

"He's crazy to take a chance like that," I thought. 

Just then Tony's front wheel hit Dooley's rear wheel and both 
motors went over, riders and all. One of the wheels struck the 
concrete guard rail, leaving a shower of sparks. Suddenly, the sky 
filled with flame. It was right in front of me. 

"Good God, I'm going to pile up !" I thought, twisting my 
handle-bars over, turning my head so the crash wouldn't put out 
my eyes . . . My motor twisted and kicked and I had that awful 
cold feeling in the bowels that a man gets when he realizes the 
thing he is riding is suddenly out of control . . . Then my wheels 
gripped and I righted myself and saw the starter in front of me 
waving the checkered flag, the winner's flag, giving the signal 
to me. 

"Can I drop you some place?" a reporter asked, coming out 
of the morgue with me. 

"No, thanks," I said. 

"Too bad about Tony," he said. "Jesus, there wasn't much left 
of his face, was there? Those spokes are as bad as a meat grinder." 

I looked at him steadily, trying to focus my eyes on him, but 
not being able to. 

"Tony called me up just this afternoon," he said. "It's a funny 
thing, but he had a hunch something like this was going to happen." 

"He did?" I said. 
'Yes," the reporter said. "It was a good story. I used it as a 



ii^ 



The Grandstand Complex 55 

feature in the bull-dog. It's out now. Read it. As a matter of fact, 
it was written especially for you." 

"I'll get it," I said. 

"Well . . . you sure I can't drop you some place .^" 

"I think I'll walk around a little," I said. 

At the corner I was stopped by the traffic light. There was a 
stack of morning papers piled up by the lamp-post. Two Die In 
Motorcycle Race, the headline said. Tony Lukatovich and Red 
Dooley killed in Long Beach-L. A. Team Match ... I stopped, 
looking down at the paper. Motorcycle Champion Resigns Career 
After Fatal Smash; Vows He Will Never Race Again, said a 
heading. 

"I didn't say that," I said to myself, trying to figure the whole 
thing out. The next moment I knew what the reporter meant. "My 
God !" I said to myself, turning the corner, walking down the street 
very fast . . . 



The Lord^s Day 

Ly Cnarles Grayson 



The excitement awakened him like a real feeling. It was early; 
too early to be getting up — dark and cold. He sank down a little 
inside himself, remembering that it w^as Sunday and the day. Better 
maybe to stay home, like always. It was warm here, comfortable, 
nothing to lose. He thought of the morning wind blowing its chill 
breath off the Gulf. Would El Diablo be cold in his coop .^^ He threw 
back his blanket and stood up. 

Working into his pants and shirt, careful of the labored rasp 
of his mother's breathing in the next room, he carried his shoes 
outside. They were almost gone, and they had cost three times the 
price of sandals. But he never would go back to sandals. Not after 
shoes. Never! Perhaps today would give him a new pair. Today 
and El Diablo. 

Rising, he crossed the packed floor of the small yard to the 
pen which pulled out one of its corners. It was empty. The door of 
the coop which centered it looked like an old black mouth. Unlatch- 
ing the gate, he moved into the pen as he had moved so as not to 
awaken his sick mother. He squatted down before the door of the 
coop, struck a match and looked inside. 

The two glowing points regarded him steadily, vehemently, 
impersonally. Manuel crossed himself. Dios, what an eye that one 
had! "Feel good?" he asked. "Today — soon we go." El Diablo 
did not relinquish his stare. The match burned out against Man- 
uel's fingers. He stood up, feeling bigger and stronger and braver, 
and went to the house. 

From the box beneath his bed he took his pig. It was chill and 
satisfyingly heavy in his hand. He dared to clink it. Five, six 
pesos, maybe more. For months now that long slit along its clay 
back had absorbed every centavo he could manage. Now for its 
use. What good were a few cents here and there .^ One got past the 
needs they might have helped. But made many times themselves, 
those centavos became important — shoes, a good reel. Maybe even 
— his heart charged up at the dazzling thought ... a bicycle ! 

Yet even as he hefted the pig, telling over like the beads of a 

56 



The Lord's Day 57 

rosary the gifts It might bring him, he was knowing in the back of 
his mind where his winnings would go if El Diablo had it this 
afternoon in Merida. That troubled sound from the next room — 
she knew, just as he did . . . and his promise of a mass for her must 
be kept, somehow. 

For a minute he stood thinking about going in to her — ^to 
awaken her and tell her everything, about El Diablo and the pig, 
and to ask for her blessing before he started. But the gamecock's 
eyes got between him and his weakness. Sitting out there in the 
dark and cold, not afraid or asleep, ready to fight and fight and 
fight and put the fight into all who watched, to make you see that 
you must go on and keep going and never back and down so long 
as you could stand up and fight — Eh, to learn so from a chicken ! 

From under the house he got the basket he had prepared and 
hurried back to the pen. There he broke open the pig. He counted 
the money, frowning. Less than four pesos. Not enough. Wrap- 
ping the coins in his handkerchief, he went in for El Diablo. 

It gave him a fine feeling to be able to reach In the coop and 
take the cock from his perch. Anyone else would have had his 
hands gone over. El Diablo did not complain when Manuel put 
him in the basket. His flat snakelike head turned and his hot eyes 
looked up, asking. The chills went around Manuel's shoulders. He 
stroked the hard feathered back, murmuring : 

"Yes, today — the day I tell you of for so long — that I know 
you are ready for when you take off those sillies of old Rivas — 
today you must win for the mass of the little madre . . ." 

Light was cracking up the grey plain of the sky. He covered 
the basket carefully and went on down the road. It still was too 
early for Progresso to be moving; the low white houses were as 
tombs for the dead. But it was over a score of miles to Merida, 
and he wanted to get there early. El Diablo had never been any- 
where before, except over to the barn of Guillermo Deloya, where 
he had gone so well. It was best that they get to the city as early 
as possible, so if the trip made him nervous he would be all right 
before the main, at four o'clock. 

The road to the highway led past the barn of old Rivas, stuffed 
with gamecocks of every known breed. There were cracks of light 
along its seams. Getting ready in there for Merida. Manuel hur- 
ried. Old Rivas' hate terrified him some; he never had had anyone 
hate him before. It was a matter of laughter — that which a Yuca- 



68 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

teco, so proud, never could stand. But whose fault had it been, eh? 

He knew now that the patron had tried to cheat him, to take 
advantage of his love for gamecocks by giving him a little un- 
promising chick instead of money for cleaning up around the 
place. "He wants to be a cocker, our Manuel," the old man had 
said to the hangers-around. "Perhaps I should give him this diahlo 
instead of dead things like pesos. Eh, my friends?" 

His friends had said yes, uproariously, and the ugly chick they 
called devil in jest had been shoved into Manuel's hands — to make 
a fool of him because he was a boy and passion in a boy was some- 
thing to be laughed at. But before he could throw the chick back 
with a curse into Rivas' face, something like the light cut of a whip 
had stung up his arms from the tough little body in his hands. He 
had looked down at it and that flat gaze had looked back at him. 
He closed his mouth and held onto the fowl. 

That had been the months ago which had seen the chick de- 
velop into the fury he had been in the barn of Guillermo Deloya. 
As from the first Manuel had been sure would be so. True, he had 
fed the growing stag carefully, trained and exercised him with 
almost Mexican patience ; but it was not that. The little devil could 
and would go. As everyone in the barn of Guillermo Deloya had 
known when he had killed one of the poor birds of old Rivas, and 
then a good one. To what snickers at the expense of Rivas — and 
what hate, like the stare of a gamecock itself from out of those deep 
bright eyes! 

The highway to Merida cut suddenly across the road. The first 
truck he thumbed stopped. The driver was out of Progresso with 
fish for the city's market. It was a good omen that a man so in a 
hurry would stop. Manuel smiled. The day was starting right! 

The driver was gay. His boat had been the first in and with 
a fine catch. A huge mess of rubia, many of the so-popular pom- 
pano, and best of all a large guango. Would Manuel like a couple 
of fish for his basket? 

This was no market basket, Manuel answered curtly. It con- 
tained his gamecock. El Diablo, who was to take part in the after- 
noon's main at Merida. The man nodded, but became less friendly. 
It seemed he was a little resentful to have as a passenger one who 
was up early to go to a cockfight when he was up early to carry 
fish. The truck rumbled under their feet. 

At the market the driver, in with the first fish, was popular* 



The Lord's Day §9 

He sold his load quickly, and became friendly again. Now to 
Marentes, he let it be known like a cat licking its face, where there 
was a new girl from Vera Cruz. Nice and fat, good for a morning 
like this! 

He was the sport now. Manuel could see him thinking, and him- 
self just a boy standing around on stiff legs with no warm bed 
or fat girl to go to. Manuel hunched up to seem smaller, putting 
on a sad look. It worked. The driver gave him a peso. 

"Here, put this on the fellow in the basket. We will divide 
what it wins. My name is Juan Gonzales, at the wharf they will 
tell you. Hasta luego,^^ 

Manuel went down the alley to the feed store of Senor Salazar, 
hugging himself. Almost five pesos, now, and the hunch getting 
more alive all the time ! He hoped the new girl from Vera Cruz was 
not sick. 

Senor Salazar, who looked like a grain sack that had been 
leaking, nodded sourly to the great smile Manuel brought through 
the door. Manuel bought only the meagerest packages of feed, 
but little cockers increased, sometimes, to become important ones. 
He pointed at the basket. 

"Is that your famous one?" 

"Yes — El Diablo — who has grown so strong on your excellent 
grain, Senor. See, has he not become a fine fellow?" 

Stripping back the coverings, he took El Diablo from the 
basket and placed him on a bench. As the shopkeeper reached to- 
ward him the flat head reared slightly. The hand of Senor Salazar 
stopped. "Eh!" he said in a voice of mild surprise. 

"He does not like anyone but me to touch him," Manuel said, 
trying not to show his pride. "And now, as you said I might — 
the coop out back for him until this afternoon?" 

In the pen El Diablo stretched himself leisurely, walked around, 
took a drink of water. Then, eyeing the two figures squatting on 
the other side of the mesh, he fluttered, quieted, jumped up on a 
perch and composed himself to rest. 

"I give you twenty pesos for him," said Senor Salazar. 

Resolutely Manuel shook his head. "He is not for sale, Senor. 
I have the hunch today he goes." 

"You are a fool boy. He will be killed and you will have 
nothing." 

"I will have something you would like to know about," Manuel 



60 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

said, grinning at him. "I heard about her this morning. New here, 
and fat." Before the shopkeeper could ask it as a favor, he stated 
the price of his information : "A pair of gaffs — your best. . . . Oh, 
yes! Do I not pay for every bit of grain I take from this store? 
Do I not tell you of the hunch, so that your twenty pesos may 
grow, if you bet? The gaffs, Sefior Salazar, and then you may get 
there before anyone else knows !" 

Later, in the park, he took the new gaffs from his pocket and 
examined them for any minute flaw he might ha\^ missed in the 
shop. But they were as fierce and as perfect as the eagle which 
once had carried them as spurs. The thunder of bells broke above 
the trees. He stood up immediately and went toward the cathedral. 

What luck to have it here for this day ! In all the world there 
could be no church like this, built over the ruins of NaChan Caan. 
In Mexico City, they said, there was one so big you could get 
lost in it. But the Mexicans were liars as well as dirty; and who 
would trade just bigness for a cathedral which stood where a Mayan 
temple once had been? 

The ten o'clock mass was the most popular, with the women 
coming directly to it from their bargaining in the markets. This 
was better. He could be alone at the shrine of St. Benedict to ask 
for a blessing on the new gaffs, the almost five pesos, the new girl 
from Vera Cruz, and for El Diablo — especially for El Diablo. 

As he placed his candle, he thought the face of the saint looked 
at him kindly from the painted niche of the shrine. He put an- 
other coin in the box as he went out the great doors. Now the sun 
was sticking its big hot face into the cool blue sky. Good sun, good 
friend — would it warm Progresso and stop the little madre's cough ! 
He must eat now ; she would ask at once if he had neglected his 
food when he was back home. 

At a sidewalk cafe he got his coffee and a cozito. The old 
woman packed the tortilla extra heavy and showed her empty gums 
at him when, with his own sound teeth tearing at the venison, he 
shook his shoulders a little with happiness. 

A party of North Americans, touristas, came across the park 
and started up the cathedral steps. Short pants hung from the 
bellies of the men. They waved cigars and talked loud. The ugly 
pale women acted silly and stared like they never had seen any- 
thing before. Their jaws worked like those of a cow. Manuel turned 



The Lord's Day 61 

his back on them, winking at the old woman. Chuckling, she refilled 
his coffee mug. 

In the park he found a warm bench. The good heat of the 
sun came in to mingle with the good feeling inside him and he slept. 

When he awoke the shadows were pools at the base of the trees, 
hiding under the benches. Many people were promenading along 
the paths, dressed for Sunday. He pushed in a vagrant tail of his 
shirt. His linen pants were clean, of course. He hesitated, then 
called a bootblack and had his shoes shined. They looked nice, but 
now he had only four pesos. That must be helped. He struck off 
rapidly toward the baseball. 

He did not understand very well the baseball, growing all the 
time more popular in Yucatan. But there were not corridas often 
in Merida, even with the great new bullring, and so the silly game 
of the North Americans was coming to get the crowds — far bigger 
ones than the cockfights. Spitting contemptuously through his 
teeth, he joined the crowd around the rude diamond. 

He watched with small interest until a short wiry man with 
an Indian face showing wrong above his uniform caught his at- 
tention. In his smooth quick movements he was like El Diablo. 
When he next came to bat there was the hunch. 

"A peso he gets the hit," he said generally. 

Four of them gave him pesos and remained standing beside 
him, trying to cover up their grins. But Manuel paid no attention. 
He had the hunch — 

The thrower — ^how different from the grace of an espada! — 
bent himself up and let the ball fly. It thudded into the big glove 
of the man behind the man of his faith. Again the same. The third 
time the stick on his shoulder flashed out like the head of El Diablo. 
There was a crack. The ball went away like a grey line. Manuel 
put the plump handful of silver in his pocket. 

"Gracias, senores," he said walking away. Eight pesos ! 

The shop of Sefior Salazar was still locked when he returned. 
He went around back, climbed over the fence and dropped before 
the pen. El Diablo looked at him with the perfect calm of readi- 
ness. His body was hot and tense beneath his feathers as Manuel 
took him from the coop and put him in the basket. 

He walked slowly to the street of the battered walls which 
held the cockpit. The secretary, book in hand, was talking to a 
group of men. Manuel took a breath and walked up to him. 



62 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

'^I wish to enter El Diablo." 

A circle of eyes looked at him : empty, amused, annoyed, mock- 
ing. He could feel the red coming up out of his collar, and gave 
way. "He is from the shop of Senor Salazar." 

"Oh, Jose. Very well. You have the two pesos?" 

Manuel paid over the entrance fee, shamed by his defection 
in a way he never had been shamed before. But the men now were 
taking no notice of him. The secretary had his entry weighed 
and assigned to a place in the handler's shed. Despite the cries 
of the other cocks, El Diablo made no demonstration. He sat 
calmly on his perch — but his comb had become bright as blood. 
Manuel watched him, taking in one of the lessons of his life. 

He too tried to be patient and aloof; but with the filling of 
the seats and the sound of the crowd, the fever which had taken 
him when he had seen his first main in the barn of Guillermo Deloya 
began to sing in him like the electricity wires. 

From his pockets he took the new gaffs, a bit of sealing wax 
and some matches, a length of ribbon. Heating the wax he applied 
it to the stubs of El Diablo's cut-off spurs, then slipped the gaffs 
snugly over them. When the weapons had hardened in place, he 
affixed them even more tightly with close bindings of the ribbon. 
As a finishing refinement he rubbed beeswax over the cloth to 
make it slick. El Diablo now was spurred like an eagle. 

A handler entered the shed, cursing. He carried a dying fowl. 
"That Rivas — those ill-begotten snake-headed devils of his — and 
today he has half the card — " 

Half the card ! That would mean El Diablo must go up against 
a good one — Rivas would bring only his best birds here from Pro- 
gresso — and that he, Manuel, again must face the cold enmity 
of his neighbor. His courage faltered again, as it had with the 
secretary, and he said : 

"Seiior, I wonder — the Senor Salazar has not come — might 
you care to handle El Diablo in his fight against the Rivas?" 

The man looked at him quickly, frowning. He started to say 
something sharp ; then his eyes met those of El Diablo and he 
started a little, as Salazar had done. Silently he reached for the 
fowl. El Diablo made no protest. It seemed to Manuel the cock 
knew that this time strange hands had a purpose on him, some- 
thing to do with what he lived for, and he submitted patiently 
as the man tossed him, checked his gaffs, comb and under-wings. 



The Lord's Day 63 

Finished, the handler seemed impressed; not by the results of 
the routine going-over, but by the venomous glances with which 
El Diablo paid him. "He has the look of one of those fiends of old 
Rivas." 

When Manuel confirmed the guess his lips drew back. "Fire with 
fire — perhaps yet we may spoil the old one's fun !" 

Tradition was against the hope when their call came. Rivas' 
birds had gone down their side of the card like a feathered scythe. 
When El Diablo appeared for his fight three to one were being laid 
against him. 

Old Rivas stared as Manuel followed the handler into the ring. 
"So it is your — our — Diablo," he said. "Well, better an ugly one 
like that soon is out of sight." 

Anger went flaming up to the start of Manuel's hair. "Here is 
five pesos at the odds that it is not El Diablo who goes out of sight." 

Rivas took the money, saying : "Four to one for you, muchacho" 
as he turned away. 

His palms sweating, Manuel stepped back over the wall into 
the crowd. A man slid over and he sat down. His back was being 
tattooed by nerves as by needles. Oh, to be big and rich and old ! 

As the birds were weighed again and their gaffs measured, the 
air thickened with the cries of bettors. Gradually the odds increased 
on El Diablo as the smart money followed Rivas' reputation. Man- 
uel gripped his remaining peso. This was for the handler ; but the 
hunch was hot within him again, and he gave it to a man beside him 
who was crying five for one. Now if he lost, he lost everything. . . . 

He tried looking around — at the straining shouting faces of the 
crowd, the green branchings of the trees at the open end of the shed, 
the corrugations of the tin roof — but his gaze determinedly kept 
coming back to the red earth of the ring. It held him like a crimson 
magnet. His examination finished, the judge nodded and climbed 
over the blood-spattered barrier. The handlers, holding their 
charges, drew close, stood face to face. 

The grey Rivas cock drove its beak viciously. El Diablo coun- 
tered with a double stroke, like light, plunged against the restrain- 
ing grip. It was obvious that this pair did not need to be aroused. 
The handlers set them down and drew back, quickly. 

The grey fowl shuffled. El Diablo came to him instantly, death 
wrapped up in furious feathers. They joined in the exact middle 
of the ring, so hard that first blood stung the pink stucco of the low 



64 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

fence. Manuel's heart stopped, then Hfted as to great music when 
he saw that it was the grey that was hung. His Diablo, his mighty 
one! 

The birds were disengaged. The judge reversed his sand glass. 
But after a quick examination old Rivas ordered his handler to pit 
his entry again. El Diablo was struggling frantically to free him- 
self from the hands which held him. The odds had dropped like a 
rock. 

The judge called sharp above the tumult, and the fowls were 
released. The grey stag came out running, short wings spread. It 
hit El Diablo, breast-on, with a shock that sent up a little drift of 
feathers as an echo. El Diablo bounded like a ball and was in the 
air, his legs working like pistons. As he landed on the grey their 
two bodies merged in a hectic immediate tangle. 

Manuel sat as though held in a vise, before his extended gaze 
passing the hot kaleidoscope of thrashing bodies, beaks which tore 
at clipped combs, lashing spurs. The break came suddenly. There 
was, all at once, an almost shocking pause while the opponents 
drew off to survey each other, glaring. Then, and so swiftly visions 
numbed with violent jumbled action scarcely could accommodate 
the sight, El Diablo ruffled and struck. 

*'He is hung! — hung! — the Rivas is hung!" 

*'Three to one he is killed — four ! — five !" 

The Rivas handler was looking at his employer. But the vet- 
eran cocker, his face fixed as the wall behind which he sat, gave 
no signal. His string won or died. Manuel felt a little proud that 
they both were from Progresso. He looked back to see El Diablo 
himself tear out the gaff and hit the grey stag again. 

Now, with victory coming on. El Diablo's actions began to 
contain more madness than effect. His inexperience poised him in 
dreadful indecision between a choice of pleasures; to dig out the 
hated eyes which glared their hate back at him, to hack more 
deliciously at the dripping loathed head, to sink his gaffs again 
and again and deeper in the detested body which surged beneath his. 

Yet even with his attack thus divided his purpose had murder 
in it. Slowly the Rivas fowl sank to the red, reddening earth. It 
tried to get weapons up for a last counter, and as it failed it died 
— with a quick clean shudder, as though angrily shucking off a 
life incapable of answering its will. Above the stained grey bundle 
El Diablo lifted his fiery head to give a hoarse triumphant cry. The 



The Lord's Day 65 

handler picked him up, spat water over his crest and took him from 
the ring. 

The man beside Manuel looked astonished, paying over his loss. 
"A devil," he said. "But a good devil. Next time I have him." Feel- 
ing a foot taller, Manuel stepped over the wall. 

Old Rivas said nothing, giving him twenty-five pesos. In his eyes 
was the same reptilian stare as the day he had lost in the barn of 
Guillermo Deloya. But suddenl}^ Manuel recognized his manner for 
what it was — the hatred of one established for one coming up with 
the same thing, perhaps with something a bit better. He felt even 
bigger, going out to the shed. 

There, the handler w^as checking El Diablo minutely, cleansing 
the single cut which had been the cock's fee for the ecstasy of all 
that tumultuous combat. Manuel held out three pesos. "I thank 
you, Seiior, and if you will do me the favor of accepting — " 

^'Por nada/' the man stopped him with a short gesture. He 
smiled, stroking El Diablo. "You made a mistake, my young friend, 
I am not one of the handlers — just a breeder." 

"Oh, but Sefior— !" 

^^Por nada! I liked the looks of your fellow, enjoyed myself. 
And now perhaps you might care to sell him to me — a hundred 
pesos?" 

For an instant pride shot up within Manuel rocket-like; then, 
as suddenly, the descent. With his great need, a hundred pesos 
was an offer he could not refuse, even though it took part of his 
life away. "All right, Seiior," he said. 

The man took out a w^allet and paid him In new slick bills. It 
w^as cleaner money than any Manuel ever had seen, but he put it 
hastily in his pocket. Picking up his basket he went quickly out into 
the street. Not for twice a hundred pesos could he have said good- 
bye to El Diablo. The voice of the crowd, busy with the next fight, 
bubbled inside the fence. He walked quickly down the sidewalk. 

Dusk was coming down, sifting gently like heavy smoke. The 
sun that had made him feel so good now was lying down tired on 
the edge of the world. He must hurry. It was twenty-six miles back 
to Progresso, and the little madre w^ould worry. Yet how happy she 
would be when he told her of all the money. One hundred and twenty- 
five and six one hundred and thirty-one pesos ! He tried to swallow 
the harsh pain in his throat. 

The little madre would have her mass — and for himself there 



66 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

would be new shoes, and the reel, and the bicycle ! All of them, when 
this morning he had hoped, at most, but for one ! Such a day — ^he 
should be so happy. He was being ungrateful to the good St. Bene- 
dict — 

Yet these were stronger than anything he could summon: the 
horrible mocking lightness of the basket, the clumsy lump of Judas 
money in his pocket, the knowing that in his victory he had lost for- 
ever the friend who could make him feel six feet tall and tough 
enough for anything. Sold him — sold him like a pullet for the pot — 
his wonderful Diablo . . . gone . . . gone . . . 

Then the ache in his throat was too much, and his clenched fists 
fought at the tears which are the meagre solace of the weak and the 
poor and the young. 



The (Jome-Back 

by L. A. G. Strong 



Ted Lenehan's second came into the dressing room, smiled, and 
jerked his head infinitesimally backwards over his shoulder. Ted re- 
turned the smile, but did not rise. He had heard through the closed 
door the roar announcing the premature close of the last bout. He 
sat forward, muscles relaxed. 

"Plenty o' time," said his second unnecessarily. "Let 'im get in 
first." 

Ted nodded, and stared straight in front of him. To sit with 
loose muscles, enjoying to the last second the time of rest, was a 
pleasure he had learned to savour to the full. It helped to keep his 
mind empty. It almost helped him to forget how nervous he was, 
how little he looked forward to the next half -hour. (Maybe quarter 
of an hour would be enough.) Slowly, keeping complete command of 
himself, he raised his right hand and inspected the bandages. Go 
on, he told himself. What's wrong .^^ You're an old bird. You know 
the game. 

Ted Lenehan had had a curious career. He was twenty-seven 
years old, and had been in the ring for nine of them. A provincial 
fighter, he had scrapped his way along for years without attracting 
any special attention, or gaining anything except experience and a 
considerable skill in taking care of himself. Then a lucky knock-out 
win had opened up new possibilities. He withdrew from actual fight- 
ing, managed to get taken on as sparring partner to a fighter of 
class, worked hard, and came back to the ring a year later. An im- 
mediate defeat almost upset him for good, but he tried again, won 
by a knock-out, got a better match, and w^on by a knock-out again. 
Filled with new confidence, he got down to the business in real 
earnest, and a series of knock-out victories put him on the edge of 
the map. Promoters in the big towns began to ask questions. His 
price rose. There were more engagements as sparring partner. He 
was invited to go abroad. Then luck took a hand. The welter division 
was having a thin time. There was not a single first-class man in it. 
The champion, an unsatisfactory fellow, dodged and twisted until 
the Board declared his title forfeit, and instituted a series of elimi- 

67 



68 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

nation contests to pick his successor. Ted, on the strength of rumour, 
was included in these. He rose to the occasion, and beat his man — 
just. Next came the semi-final, held in the biggest hall and the best 
town Ted had ever visited professionally. Up against a showy vet- 
eran, a navy boxer who was all tricks and tattoo-marks, Ted had 
boxed a couple of respectful rounds, and then, just as the audience 
was getting restive, went in suddenly and knocked his man cold. 

Then came the final. It was a question which of the two small- 
town boxers was the more miserably apprehensive as they met under 
the big lights at the Albert Hall; but, after several scrambling 
rounds Ted once more found his pet punch, and, gazing down at 
his squirming opponent, incredulously heard himself proclaimed the 
new welterweight champion. 

That was over a year ago. And here he was now, out in the prov- 
inces again, making a come-back, not against defeat, but against 
illness. A bare fortnight after winning the championship, he was 
rushed into a hospital with a perforated appendix. The Board was 
kind. They held his title in abeyance until he should recover. But re- 
covery was a long, slow business. It was months before he felt any- 
where near fit again. The Board grew impatient. At last, very care- 
fully, after a long preparation in the g3^mnasium, Ted's manager 
began trying him out with a series of easy fights in the provinces. 
This was the third of the easy fights. There was only one more, 
and then, inexorable, the date, two months ahead, on which he must 
defend his title. 

It was worth defending. Ted had a nice voice, and his good- 
looking, alert face bore no sign of his profession. The champion- 
ship had brought film and music-hall offers — nothing fabulous, but 
still, possibilities of a kind of which he had never dreamed. If he 
could only hold on to the title for a bit, they were his, at any rate 
for some months ahead. He miist hold on — that was all there was 
about it. 

Ted's second, who had been standing by, raised an eyebrow. 
Ted rose languidly, passed his tongue over his upper lip, and went 
through the door. He was scared, badly scared, and there was no use 
denying it. He hated these "easy" fights worse than any others. 
True, he had won the first two, but that was little help. Merely 
winning was no good. He was expected to win easily, spectacularly ; 
and the men he was up against, with everything to gain and nothing 
to lose, fought their damnedest. Ted had no illusions about himself. 



The Come-Back 69 

He was a weak champion, at the best of times. His ring assets were 
experience ; an excellent sense of balance, which enabled him to avoid 
blows and gave the maximum of effect to those he landed; and a 
right hand punch. His defects, both physical and psychological, 
were serious. He suffered from over-much imagination, a bad left 
hand, lack of real aggression, and — intensified by his illness — an 
inability to take punishment. A good punch do^\^lstairs, and he was 
done. He had had ample reminder of these defects in the two pre- 
liminary fights just over, and even more alarming evidence of a new 
one, lack of stamina. In his present state, he could never last ten 
rounds, even if he were wanning. His only chance was to secure a 
knock-out, early on. If he couldn't get one — well, there were ways 
out ; ways to which, unfortunately, he was not altogether a stranger. 
That was one comfort. As he came down the aisle towards the glare 
of the ring ; he reminded himself of it, and felt a faint glow of re- 
assurance. He did know the ring ; and, in those two first fights, that 
knowledge, like an instinct, had come up, independent of his fear- 
stricken mind, and fought mechanically in his defense. It was there, 
thank the Lord, under his skin, in the core of his muscles. Even if 
he were nervous and weak as a cat, it could be relied on to take 
charge and tell him what to do. As long as he, personally, remained 
inert, and surrendered himself to its guidance, he would be all 
right. 

He was in the ring, the lights gleaming on his rich silk dressing 
gown, turning this way and that, holding up his clasped hands, 
acknowledging the respectful, unconvinced applause. Then, from 
his comer, he took a look at his opponent. Fair, thick-set, shortish, 
young, he sat, listening to the urgent voice of his chief second, 
nodding every now and then, a look of secret determination in his 
eye. Yes, thought Ted, nod away, you — ! You're all right. You've 
nothing to lose, you haven't. You've nothing to worry about. No 
wife and children, no title, no film contracts, no nothing. 

A moment later the referee was calling the men together. The 
gloves lay on a cloth in the center of the ring. The referee stood be- 
side it. He said the usual things. Ted hardly listened, and the other 
man, still with the hypnotized, secret look in his eyes, nodded and 
cleared his throat. 

"Understand?" 

The referee, having said his piece, looked brightly from one to 
the other, like a bird. 



70 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Ted nodded. The other said hoarsely "Yes," and cleared his 
throat again. 

"Shake hands now, and come out fighting. Shake 1" 

They shook hands. Ted smiled with sudden mindless goodwill, 
but the other, full of his secret determination, looked down and 
would not meet his eye. 

They went back to their corners. The dressing gown was peeled 
from Ted's arms, and slipped loosely over his shoulders. He sat to 
have the gloves tied on. His second passed him the bottle. He tilted 
back his head, rinsed his dry mouth, and spat the water sideways 
into a bucket. He breathed hard once or twice through his nose, and 
sat forward. Then, clearing his mind, he took stock of his opponent. 

Yes. As he had expected. Solid, heavy muscled, and a good stone 
and a half the heavier. Since his illness, Ted was still badly under- 
weight. He had hopped on the scales that afternoon in his clothes. 
They had joked with him over it. What they did not know was 
that he had a sizeable lead weight in each trouser pocket. He dared 
not let it be known how light he was. If he had been asked why, in- 
stead of giving away weight he could ill afford, he did not take ad- 
vantage of his lightness and fight in the division below, his answer 
would have been quick and decisive. The champion in the lower di- 
vision was a real champion, capable of beating Ted Lenehan. Ted's 
only chance of a championship and all it promised to bring lay in 
staying in the welters. It was precarious enough. Even if he got 
back, at any moment a youngster might arise who had the real stuff, 
and topple him down again. 

"Seconds out! First Round! Time!'' 

The gown was slipped from his shoulders : he rose, and came out 
into the ring. The signal had taken him unawares. He approached 
his man without preparation or thought — and was instantly occu- 
pied in parrying a first clumsy, nervous rush. Automatically he 
slipped the blows, frowning as one caught him on the wrist and mo- 
mentarily hurt him. His heart was beating very fast, but after half 
a minute of scrambling, quick exchanges a glow of thankfulness 
arose in him. 

Aha! The other chap was settling down. That first rush had 
been nine-tenths nervousness. Now, after a minute's fighting, he 
was gaining command of himself. He came in strongly. With a series 
of stiff lefts, Ted kept him off. He frowned involuntarily. The jar 
of the blows, the strength with which the fellow bore against him 



The Come-Back 71 

in the clinches, told an unwelcome story. The chap was too strong 
— ^too strong, and too tough. The way he had taken that last left, 
just shaking his head, and coming in harder than ever — Ted didn't 
like it. He could not go many rounds against that sort of thing. 

As if to ram the message home, the other chap bored in and 
landed an unpleasantly vigorous thump in Ted's ribs. Something 
would have to be done. 

There was no use in hurrying, though. Fighting cleverly on 
the retreat, Ted led him on. He came, plunging and blowing. The 
floor shook beneath his stamping feet. It must be near the end of 
the round. Ted swayed back, led him on, swayed back ; landed a left 
— and another — but it was not hard enough to keep him out, and 
they were in a clinch, Ted being borne backwards, when the bell 
rang. 

Bellows of encouragement to the local man at once arose from 
the crowd. Ted sat in his corner. He had done all right from the 
spectators' point of view. No one but himself could know that 
his left was already aching with the effort of keeping his heavy op- 
ponent off. 

^'Whafs the chap's name?" he asked, interrupting his second's 
flow of advice. 

"Bill Stammers." 

Bill came up confidently for the second round. He rushed in at 
once, and Ted let him rush, giving ground, swaying away, proving 
exceedingly hard to hit. He now knew one important thing about 
Bill. Like himself, he was a right-hand fighter. Every move, every 
clumsy attempt at strategy, the very carriage of his shoulders, be- 
trayed the man who had a powerful punch in his right and was 
waiting for a chance to use it. The issue was clear. Unfit though 
he was, and risky though the process must be, he must draw that 
right — lure Bill on to use it — and, when it came, be, not somewhere 
else— that would be easy — but near enough to take full advantage. 
With his eye fixed on a point somewhere to the left of Bill, he fought 
on coolly, anticipating each blow from the movements of the stamp- 
ing feet. 

Then, suddenly, his first chance came. Bill, breathless from his 
efforts, for an instant stopped still. Immediately, so lightly and 
gracefully that it seemed child's play, Ted feinted, went in, and 
landed an academically perfect left hook to the jaw. It was so simple, 
so insolent, that a gasp went up, and a ripple of delighted ap- 



72 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

plause. There was no force behind the blow: Ted's left was weak 
anyhow, and from that position he could put no weight into a 
hook: it was pure artistry, pure eyewash. Recovering with a snort. 
Bill came in — and a few seconds afterwards, with the same non- 
chalance, Ted leaned forward and did it again. This time there was 
a loud laugh. Bill fell back, and flushed darklj^ Like a cat Ted 
was after him, sending a hail of quick, light blows to head and ribs, 
and dancing away out of reach. He kept moving till close on the 
end of the round, and then, a few seconds before the bell, his whole 
soul sick with the exquisite daring, he landed the hook for the third 
time. A howl of laughter went up, and, as he leaped back, Ted saw 
in his opponent's eye the gleam he wanted. The slow mind was at 
work at last. 

Sure enough, in the interval, he saw an earnest confabulation 
going on in Bill's corner. His seconds were telling him something. 
The broad face was alight with malevolence and secret purpose. 

As the seat was pulled away, Ted came out with a show of the 
completest confidence, and landed a couple of quick light lefts to the 
face. Bill hung back. That was all right ! Now Ted knew for certain 
what was afoot. Maneuvering him into a nice position, he made the 
identical feint, as if to land the hook for a fourth time. It even 
started on its course: and then, like a film that suddenly stops, the 
movement was arrested — just as Bill let off a savage right upper- 
cut which, had Ted been leaning in for the hook, would have lifted 
him a foot off the floor. As it was, it whizzed harmlessly upward, 
so close that he felt the wind of it on his skin. Then, at the precise 
instant when, meeting nothing, the right shot up too far, tilting 
Bill backward, jerking taut the muscles on his stomach, Ted, with 
every vicious ounce that was in him, shot his own right into the 
stretched, unprotected gap. 

Bill gave a loud grunt. His head jerked forward; he staggered 
back, half doubled up. Swift and merciless, Ted was after him. He 
smashed a right at the unguarded jaw, missed the fatal spot, but, 
to judge by the shock that thrilled up his arm, got home pretty hard 
on something. Then, his opponent on the ropes, he coolly, desper- 
ately drove in blows with every atom of science and strength he 
had, spending his strength prodigally in the effort to follow up 
his advantage. 

For a few seconds Bill, still suffering from the punch amidships, 
found no defence from the blows that came at him cruelly, venom- 



The Come-Back 75 

ousl}^, from all points of the compass. Then, his senses clearing, he 
started lashing out. Intent upon his murderous work, Ted took a 
couple of wild blows. Realizing his folly, he leaped back, before any 
real harm was done. To his amazement (instead of thankfully grasp- 
ing the chance to rest), Bill followed him up at once. Shaking his 
head, he charged in, and in a couple of seconds was fighting back 
as strongly as ever. Ted's heart went chill with dismay. He had put 
all he knew behind those punches, and the man hadn't even gone 
doAMi. That smack in the guts alone would have put most men down 
for the full count. 

Recovering himself quickly, for the crowd were bawling encour- 
agement to Bill, Ted countered, side-stepped, slipped, and for the 
rest of the round appeared to dominate the fight and do what he 
liked. It was an expenditure of valuable strength, but the moment 
was critical : he had his name to think of. He went to his corner with 
a smile and a nonchalant swagger, but tired and breathing hard. 

"You damn near 'ad 'im. Fetch 'im another one in the guts, like 
that, and 'e'll be done." 

Ted didn't think so. Yet — maybe a looker-on saw most of the 
game, after all. Even though he didn't go down. Bill must have 
felt that smack all right. He might be bluffing, too. That recovery 
might have been so much eyewash. Ted would have liked to be- 
lieve it. A wave of weariness swept over him, weariness with the 
whole game. Bitterly he envied those whose living was not a series 
of ordeals which frayed their nerves to rags. 

He realized, with chill conviction, that, bar an extraordinary 
stroke of luck, he could not put this chap away. He had hit him 
all he knew, and the cove seemed to like it. He, Ted, was already 
the more tired of the two. Well — he must keep Bill off for the rest 
of the time — if he could — and look as if he were doing enough to 
win. And, with cold, merciless accents, a voice inside him said, "This 
fight ought to have been finished already." 

The bell went, and with a lightness he did not feel Ted came 
out. Bill, full of valour, rushed in. A stiff left jerked his head 
back, but he recovered before Ted could follow it up. Ted blocked 
a couple of well-advertised leads, the second so naive that it made 
him smile ; then, catching Bill off his balance, w^ent in and once more 
gave him the left hook. Bill scowled murderously, and replied with 
a swing that missed by a couple of feet. The crowd, in high good 



74j Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

humor, shouted jocular advice, till the M, C. half rose, and roared 
for order. 

Quiet, vicious, Bill followed Ted around the ring. Showing off, 
with widespread hands, Ted invited liim to lead. Dull cunning 
gleamed in Bill's small eyes ; he would not accept so obvious a bait. 
But his second, T^dser, old in sin, was frantically beckoning him 
on. Go after him, said the gestures. Ted saw them, and smiled. 
The man knew how it w^as with him. The recognition made Ted al- 
most gay. The fool opposite could not be got to believe it; he 
would not take the advice. With sudden irritation at his folly, 
Ted feinted, and dug him viciously in the ribs. Too late, he real- 
ized his mistake. Bill was in upon him, and Ted took a jab that 
made him wince and catch his breath before he could gain control. 
Then, with an eye raised at the referee, he leaned on Bill and 
waited for the referee to part them. 

They were pushed apart, and Bill fell back at once. His sec- 
ond, who had seen and was not deceived, rose and beckoned him 
on in agony. 

"Sit down, that man." 

The second, hi^ scarred mug a map of conflicting emotions, 
reluctantly subsided. Something of his urgency must, however, 
have penetrated Bill's thick skull. Taking a deep breath, he came 
on in. On the hair-trigger of poise, with a twist of his body, Ted 
beautifully evaded his rush. A regular game followed, Ted, with 
a faint smile, side-stepping rush after rush, without striking a blow. 
He worked round the ring, and finally let himself appear to be 
maneuvered into a corner. Then, as with a glint in his eye Bill 
charged. By magic there was no one there to meet him, and he 
rushed into the ropes. Turning furiously, lashing out on chance, 
he missed, and received a stinging blow from a place where he had 
never expected Ted to be. Quickly, showily, Ted harried him, 
clipping him with neat, crisp blows. They were light ; there was no 
use in wasting effort when no vulnerable spot was exposed. 

Then, for the second time, Ted miscalculated. He found him- 
self flat-footed, felt the chill instant's foreknowledge of a blow, 
tried to cover up — too late. Bill's right, at short range, shot sav- 
agely into his body. A lightning, terrified twist at the last instant 
partly saved him. If the blow had landed fair and square, he would 
have gone down and out. As it was, it sent a sick stab of anguish 
through hira. For a moment, the world went black. He felt his 



The Come-Back 75 

knees give, and hung on desperately to his opponent, who, grunt- 
ing with rage and triumph, was laboring mightily to disengage his 
right and land again. 

"Break! Break, I tell you!" 

The referee came at them. Ted's senses were clearing. With 
an adroit twist, he managed to get Bill between him and the ref- 
eree, and so delay the separation. By the time the perspiring official 
thrust them apart, he had almost recovered. Almost, but not quite. 
Bill charged in again at once. Ted gave ground, but liis left leg 
was not working properly ; he failed to get away, but just managed 
to smother another haymaking right that was driven at his stom- 
ach. Bill crowded on top of him, hustling him against the ropes. 

"Get away, you — !" spat Ted. And then, in sudden rage, he 
forgot everything about saving himself. The fighting animal came 
uppermost. Lashing out with the nervous fury of a cat, he caught 
Bill a couple of vicious right hooks to the mouth. Bill was hurt: 
he started, and craned his head back, pawing clumsily in the air 
to detain the stinging glove. With all his might, Ted loosed off 
another. It missed, just grazing Bill's forehead. Then, mth a 
violent effort, Ted broke loose, and leaped away, gasping for 
breath. At the same time he saw Bill hesitate, and shake his head. 
A bright trickle of blood was running down his face. That last 
missed blow has cut his eyebrow! 

Instantly, aching for rest though he was, Ted was upon him, 
pasting him with both hands. He knew at once that Bill would 
not be able to go on with a cut like that; he had seen too many, 
not to know. 

So, blessing his luck, yet even in his excitement using no more 
energy than was absolutely necessary, he overwhelmed his stricken 
opponent with blows. Bill responded gallantly, but he could no 
longer see what he was doing. The crowd were on their feet, yell- 
ing. They saw only a whirlwind attack, with every blow going home, 
and their own man miraculously taking it all and yet remaining 
upon his feet. They did not know that there was nothing behind 
the blows ; indeed. Bill himself did not realize that, till long after- 
wards. They never realized how near to disaster the champion 
had been. "Ah," they would say wisely among themselves after- 
wards, "that dig in the guts Bill gave him stung him up proper. 
Before that, he was only playing with him, taking it easy. That 



76 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

fetched him, though! He wasn't going to have any more of that 
sort of thing." 

Ted, his lungs red hot, his arms aching, began to curse. How 

much more did the referee want? He couldn't go on much 

longer. Then, just as the referee, in response to loud yells from 
the audience, was beginning to move doubtfully forward, the towel 
came in from Bill's corner. 

The fight was over. Luck was with him. He had won ! 

With an effort so severe it brought the sweat out upon him, 
Ted walked around the ring, holding up his hands, smiling and 
nodding in response to the applause. Then he went to his comer. 
As soon as he sat down, his legs went limp. Even his second did 
not realize how near it had been. 

"Well," he said, perfunctorily mopping him. "He was easy 
for you." 

But Ted, looking across the ring, caught the eye of Bill's sec- 
ond, fixed upon him, bright with meaning. An old hand, he was 
not deceived. In spite of himself, Ted grinned. The other did not 
return the grin, but his baleful glance ever so slightly softened. 

"Stammers is an uncommon hard man to beat," Ted was jerk- 
ing out to the reporters presently, as he lay in the dressing room 
with the masseur busy on his legs and stomach. "As plucky a chap 
as ever I've fought. I hit him with all I had, and I couldn't knock 
him out." 

Bill, sitting docile while the doctor stitched his brow, smiled 
wistfully when it came to his turn. "Only for this here cut," he 
hazarded, "I believe I could 'ave got him." The reporters smiled 
at one another. They little realized how near Bill came to the truth. 

Wearily, Ted put on his coat, and adjusted his scarf. Another 
fence safely behind him. Now there was nothing to do but wait 
for the next. The inevitable day was postponed; but how long.^ 



The Girl at Thorpes 

Ly Warren GriLson 



My boat was to sail at twelve o'clock noon and I was hurrying 
with some last minute packing, odds and ends left over from the 
night before; all the more important things had been put in, but 
cases left unstrapped to receive toilet articles and other small 
pieces which I might need in the morning. 

I was off on my annual holiday, going fishing this year again 
as usual. I often thought of having a different sort of holiday, 
possibly going to the seashore, taking a long ocean trip or some- 
thing of the kind, but in the end I usually did the same thing. 
I withstood the temptations presented by such conventional vaca- 
tions, packed up my rods and reels and tried my luck with the 
salmon. 

Good Lord! What a relief it was to get away. Tackle had all 
been looked over days before, fly cases checked and a few espe- 
cially alluring ones added, a half dozen leaders and I thought my 
kit was complete; must not forget the tried and true old hat 
though, no luck without that old soft hat. 

I taxied to the dock with all my luggage, plenty of time, found 
my quarters quite all right, in fact rather familiar, as I had gone 
north on this same boat on several previous occasions. 

There was quite a crowd about the lower decks, so I made my 
way above to the upper deck, found a quiet corner to sit down 
in until the steward should come around and I could get a per- 
manent chair. 

Almost two whole days of absolute loafing before me. This 
was Saturday, we should make Halifax Monday morning after 
breakfast. Then a day spent in some minor shopping and getting 
my fishing permit, overnight train dropping me off at a little 
way-station at 5 :S0 in the morning. There to board a fussy old 
"chug chug" boat which would take me across the lake to Bedeck, 
at the wharf would be Joe waiting with the Ford, two hours later 
I would be on the spot. 

Joe and Mrs. Joe have run the place for years, mostly Mrs. 
Joe really, it is she who does all the managing. Joe himself is 

77 



78 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

usually fishing or just getting ready to go fishing; he can be the 
busiest man doing nothing you ever saw. 

Without Mrs. Joe the place wouldn't get on at all, she really 
runs things, oversees the kitchen, buys all the supplies, makes out 
your bill and it's she who accepts your money as you leave. Joe 
has his job though too: it is his part to greet you when arriving, 
string out his stock of stories during your stay and to look very 
sad and downcast at your departure; other than that he fishes. 
He's a lovable old fraud though. It's Joe as much as the fishing 
that keeps me coming back year after year. 

It was a nice trip up, boat not too crowded, smooth water 
all the way and no fog. I did my various chores in Halifax on 
Monday, caught my train in the evening and in due time was 
put down on the dock where Joe's boy was waiting with the car. 
A few hours later I was sitting down close by just about the pret- 
tiest little salmon stream in Nova Scotia. 

Right off I had my customary bad luck; there had been quite 
a lot of wet weather and for the first few days water was too high 
for fishing; we did manage to get a few trout from the meadow 
brook about a quarter mile back of camp though. By the fourth 
day the water had gone do^Ti and cleared up some and from then 
on we began to get our fishing. Seven beauties fell to my rod in 
the next few days and I was content, I don't care to murder the 
fish. The largest topped eighteen pounds, they get them larger 
up here but somehow I don't seem to land those big ones. My 
eighteen pounder gave me plenty of sport though, took me out 
well above the waist, dragged me nearly half mile and I came to 
shore thoroughly tired out and with a good part of the Margaree 
in my waders. 

The day I had planned to go out I tramped up above the 
camp some three miles along the back trails and roads, coming 
down to the stream by the bridge. Not doing any fishing today, 
just rambling around and saying goodbye till next year. 

The whole valley could be seen from here beautiful in the 
sunlight, small feathery clouds floating by overhead, the sound 
of rippling water below me, soft meadowland bordering the stream 
on both sides and then come the hills which bound the valley, lovely, 
and now I must leave it all and go back to the city. I stopped on 
the bridge to enjoy this wonderful picture and to see in the sweep 
of the stream as it came down, a rare opportunity for a painter. 



The Girl at Thorpes '79 

Just at the curve above me I saw a fisherman on the opposite 
bank making ready to cast. He was perhaps some three or four 
hundred yards upstream; he waded out well above the knees to 
make his first cast far out to the middle of the stream. There was 
a sure and workmanlike sweep to the cast that marked him as no 
novice, that was certain. I stood there for a time watching; it's 
a pretty sight to see good casting such as this and I was in a 
splendid position to watch. Cast after cast he made a good twenty- 
five yards, coming to water right in the channel where it runs 
strong and swift and where one usually hooks the big fish. 

As I stood there watching he started downstream toward me, 
working the stream as he came along. As he reached a bit of grav- 
elly beach just above the bridge he waded to shore, turned face 
toward me and looked up. To my surprise I then saw it was a 
woman, a young woman perhaps in her early twenties. 

She was wearing the usual fishing duds, soft felt hat, canvas 
jacket, men's trousers and high waders; it was not surprising I 
had not seen it was a woman. I leaned over the bridge rail and 
nodded to her, she nodded to me and waved a hand in casual greet- 
ing. I wouldn't recognize her again, there was quite a distance 
between us and I couldn't see very much of her face anyhow. 

When I returned to camp I told Joe about seeing the girl 
fishing up above the bridge. 

"Oh yes," he said, "I heard o' her, she been comin' up here 
fur three to four years now but I never did run into her. Some 
o' the guides they told me about her, said she was pretty good too." 

"Yes, she handles a mean rod, Joe; I watched her quite awliile 
and it was pretty. Where does she stay, do you know?" 

"Thorp's, I hear ; Thorp got a place up that way a piece above 
the bridge. She must be stayin' up there." 

I had never seen Thorp's but I knew about where it was lo- 
cated. "Well, you ought to take a day off sometime, Joe, and 
go up there and look her over, she might give you a few pointers." 

Women casting for salmon were not often met with in this 
country, in fact this was the only time I had encountered one in 
all the years of coming up here. She made quite an impression 
upon me. 

I did not go out the following day as intended; the weather 
was so fine I just hated to leave, so decided to give the fish one 
more try after all. The next afternoon, however, I packed up and 



80 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

got everything ready for an early start in the morning. Joe was 
to drive to Bedeck, where I would get a boat going back through 
the lakes to Mulgrave, from there by train to Truro, where I 
could catch the limited for Montreal. I had some business which 
would keep me a few hours, perhaps overnight, continuing to New 
York in the morning. 

It might have been more direct and with less changing to drive 
to Sydney, from there by train back to Halifax and make the same 
limited, but I had looked foi-ward to the all day boat trip down 
the lakes, one of the most beautiful to be had in the Provinces. 
Also Truro being a junction point on the main line, I would lose 
no time going out this way. 

The boat was late in arriving at Bedeck. It usually is, I fancy, 
but as there would be several hours wait over at Mulgrave for 
my train it did not matter. The little boat reached Mulgrave late 
in the evening, after dark at this time of year, and my train would 
not come along until midnight, so I had a rather long wait with 
nothing to do but hang around a deserted railroad station, no 
pleasing prospect. When it arrived I was fortunate in getting 
a lower and went to bed at once. 

At Truro the next morning reservations were awaiting me in 
response to my wire from Bedeck. 

A cup of coffee and some toast had been my breakfast, so 
after getting on the train I went in for lunch at the first oppor- 
tunity. The car steward showed me to a small table with an empty 
chair opposite. During the next few minutes the car filled rapidly. 
I had just finished my bouillon when a young woman was shown 
to the table. I rose and bowed to her as she seated herself, then 
continued with my lunch, 

Wlien I looked up a second or two later I saw her eyes fixed 
upon my chop, which I had just begun to eat; it was grilled 
with some bacon and I found it excellent. I thought perhaps she 
was thinking it might suit her own taste. Now the subject of food 
might serve as well as any other to start conversation with a charm- 
ing young woman that a kind fate had put before me, so I began by 
saying : 

"If you are interested, the chop is really very good; I would 
say you cannot do better." 

"It does look good. I think perhaps I will," she rephed. 



The Girl at Thorp's 81 

From that opening I carried on, we talked of this and that, 
quite usual table talk such as people use under these circumstances. 

All the while I was casually looking her over. She spoke well 
in a not unpleasant voice; clothes fitted her well, they were quiet 
and chosen with taste, dark brown sports type with something of 
orange tone for vest or under jacket; a soft felt hat with flopped 
down brim completed the picture and it all had the mark of good 
taste. She was possibly twenty-five, not more certainly, perhaps 
less, her features were good. I do not think you would say she was 
pretty, pleasing surely and she had the loveliest eyes, quite the 
very best thing about her were the eyes, she had the trick of 
smiling with her eyes. Large and of the deepest blue, real Irish eyes 
they were and very good to see. Altogether I decided she must be 
a person of refinement and one who might prove a very interesting 
companion on the journey if it could be worked out. I would see 
what could be done about it. 

I managed it so that we should finish lunch about the same 
time, we paid our individual checks and rose from the table together. 

"May I offer you a cigarette.^" I asked. "And could we go 
back to the club car to smoke?" 

"Why, yes, I think I should like that," she replied. So we 
made our way back to the rear of the train for comfortable chairs. 
As she walked on ahead of me I noted she was somewhat taller than 
I had thought. I am by no means a tall man, five feet nine to be 
exact, and I saw she was but slightly below me in height, a matter 
of a couple of inches perhaps, must be long in the legs I thought. 
I noticed too that they were very good-looking legs and very trim, 
nice-looking ankles. I did not like her shoes though, not quite right 
with the rest of the costume, it seemed to me; they were made up 
of different kinds of leather with little perforations all over and 
tied with broad ribbon and were high in the heel. 

We found chairs, got comfortably fixed and lighted our cig- 
arettes. There was a long dreary train ride ahead and I had hated 
the thought of this part of the trip home ; now here was a diversion 
which might help a lot, much better than reading and besides I 
had no book with me; the car library is usually a total loss and 
the radio grows to be a terrible bore. 

These thoughts were running through my head in the second or 
two as we moved our chairs around facing the windows. I was just 



8^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

turning to say something or other when she asked me whether I 
had boarded the train at Halifax. 

"No, I got on at Truro," I replied. "I have had an all night 
trip, in fact even longer than that. I came down through the Bras 
d'Or Lakes the day before." 

She seemed interested at hearing me say that. "Why, that's 
curious, isn't it.^^ I've been up in that part of the country too. I 
came out another way though. I came by way of Sydney and 
Halifax to make this train. I thought that the most direct way." 

"Yes, that's right it is and probably quicker too, but you see 
I wanted to come down through the lakes. Ever since I have been 
coming up here they have been telling me I should go out by the 
lake route. This time I made up my mind I would. I'm glad I did 
too, it was a gorgeous trip all the way, marvelous. I enjoyed 
every minute of it." 

"You speak as though you came up here pretty often," she 
questioned, "what brings you so much to this out-of-the-way part 
of the world .^" 

"Oh," I answered, "I belong to the fisherman tribe, they go 
all over you know; when we find a good stream we stay for awhile 
but when it grows popular why then we have to move on again." 

"So you are a fisherman, are you.? Salmon, I suppose, in this 
country. Where do you find that good stream you are talking 
about, or is that too inquisitive?" 

"No," I replied. "I don't mind telling you, it's no private water 
and not too much fished as yet. I've been on the Margaree, been 
going there four or five years now. I like the country and I like 
the people." 

"The Margaree! Why, that's just where I've been. I'm a fish- 
erman too. Isn't it remarkable we should meet on a train like this.^^ 
What I mean is, we've both come from way up there, sort of end 
of the world almost and we start home different ways and get on 
the same train at different stations and then I come and sit down 
at your table and we get to talking and all these days we've been 
almost next door to each other, on the same stream anyhow. Oh, 
I do think it the strangest thing. Don't you ?" 

As a matter of fact there was even more that she didn't know, 
if I was right in my surmise. It had come to me like a shot while 
she had been talking. It was almost a certainty she was the girl 
I had seen that day from the bridge. Not at all likely there v/ould 



The Girl at Thorp's 83 

be more than one woman fishing on the Margaree, so I answered: 

"Yes, it is strange, as you say. Now tell me this: Were you 
by any chance fishing last Sunday morning, just above that old 
steel bridge by Thorp's?" 

"Sunday morning, let me think," she mused. "Why yes I was, 
that was my last time out. I wanted to try out a Jock Scot but 
I had no luck at all." 

"Well, what do you know about that?" I returned. "Besides 
all the other strange and remarkable things you have mentioned 
there is this one more. We are really quite old acquaintances. I 
was the man on the bridge." 

She looked at me in amazement and then we both burst out 
laughing. 

"My dear girl," I continued, "that dining car steward was 
my good angel all right. I don't know how but somehow he did 
know you belonged at my table. I'll put him in my prayers to- 
night and, what he will probably appreciate much more, I'll not 
forget him at dinner tonight." 

After this I am sure neither of us felt we were mere chance 
acquaintances of little more than an hour. We sat on there talk- 
ing of one thing and another for a good part of the afternoon. 
I tried to find out as much about her as I could without being 
overly inquisitive. By now I was sure that not only was she an 
interesting companion for a day's journey but also if possible I 
was not going to say a conventional goodbye when we reached 
Montreal in the morning. 

She told very little of herself or her affairs. I gathered from 
her talk she had travelled about a good deal, seemed to know a 
number of cities, had no very extensive knowledge of books, went 
in little for sports except the fishing of which she was extremely 
fond and always did alone. I was curious to know whether she was 
married or single, divorced or perhaps a widow. I did not think 
she was a business girl. Men did not appear to be much in her 
Hfe, at least she didn't mention them. I could not recall any ref- 
erence to her people and there was a strange mixture in her some- 
times, there was evidence of refinement and education and then 
sometimes would come something quite different, a word or ex- 
pression might be quite coarse and unrefined. It was surprising. 

Later on in the afternoon she excused herself with some word 



84j Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

about repacking a bag but not before I had arranged to see her 
at dinner. 

We dined late that night. An hour or two afterward in the club 
car I found her well versed in various sporting topics of the day ; 
spoke in the "right language" and needed no detailed explana- 
tions, she was on to practically everything. Had a masculine atti- 
tude generally and yet she was very feminine, I think I was always 
quite conscious of the woman of her. We had not touched upon 
any "sexy" stuff in conversation, nevertheless sex was always very 
present in her ; one could not be near her long without feeling that. 

Just before going off to bed we stepped out on to the observa- 
tion platform for a little air. It was a splendid night, stars blinking 
away up there in the heavens, the air cool and sweet, here and there 
a ghmpse of the river. We were quite alone out there and it seemed 
intimate and cozy. She leaned a little toward me, I thought, and 
for a second our bodies touched and her hand rested on my arm. 
It was a "chumpy" thing to do. I took her quickly in my arms, 
drew her head down on to my shoulder and kissed her hard, full 
on the lips. 

She was absolutely quiet, no protest, no surprise or exclamation, 
nothing whatever; just nothing. Certainly no response. I might as 
well have been kissing a mummy. I was surprised, for I had kissed 
with passion and desire just as I had felt at the moment and she 
was never the kind of girl to take it like that, she did not im- 
press me as being the cold type. She might resent it, she might wel- 
come it, but in either case I would bet my life she would be absolutely 
and fully alive. 

She turned toward the door without a word to me. I made no 
protest and we walked in silence through the train. When we 
reached her section I said good night and continued on to my own 
car ahead. As I undressed and crawled into the berth I had a 
distinct feeling that I had rather made a mess of things. I was 
certainly no hero. 

Next morning I breakfasted alone, later in the morning stop- 
ping at her seat with the idea of squaring myself if I could. I 
thought it likely, after all I had not done anything so very ter- 
rible, she had no right to have such tempting lips and lovely eyes 
if she didn't expect to be kissed. 

The incident was to be Ignored, I found; that was plain from 
the first, she was in very good humor. Last night was out. 1 thought 



The Girl at Thorp's 85 

to myself, I just used the wrong system, that was all. The idea 
was probably all right. I approached it the wrong way, that was 
the trouble. Sedative for my vanity. 

I was now more sure than ever that this adventure should not 
come to an end at Montreal. Some way must be found to carry on. 
This girl was evidently not interested in a kiss in the dark, I should 
have to evolve something which would interest her. Eyes like hers 
that promised so much could not possibly have been made all for 
nothing. 

We were nearing the end of the journey now and I had no 
definite plan or idea. I only knew I was going to make the try 
somehow. 

Perhaps I might suggest her staying over and going on to 
New York with me the following day. I wondered would that work 
out. Well, why not? It seemed a wonderful idea to me, why would 
it not appeal to her also? She was no child, she could decide for 
herself and despite the lack of response to the kiss, I had a feeling 
I was not unattractive to her. The whole business of last night 
did not mean very much really, ners^es get a bit ragged on a long 
trip like this. A good hotel, tub, change into other clothes, a good 
dinner and comfortable quarters; that should make all the differ- 
ence in the world. Yes, I would suggest it. 

We were by now almost to the terminal, luggage had been 
carried to the vestibule by the porter and passengers were pre- 
paring to leave so time was short. I turned to her and said: 

"Here we are at last. Do you plan stopping over in Montreal 
or are you going through? I am afraid you will have difficulty 
in getting away today unless you have already made reservations. 
Now, I have a suggestion, it is this: Stay over. We can dine to- 
gether, perhaps see a show or anything you like; let's make a 
party of it. We two have had such a good time I just hate to let 
you go so soon. Now what do you say?" 

She looked at me straight in the eyes for a second and answered : 

"No, I have made no reservations as yet." Nothing more and 
yet she had not failed to understand me, of that I felt sure. I 
waited a little to give her time but she added nothing. 

"Well, then," I persisted, "what do you think of my plan? 
We must not ignore the blessed fate that brought us together. I 
very much want you to stay and I'll land you safe and sound in 
New York." 



86 Esquire's Second Spoii:s Reader 

The train was in the terminal by now, passengers were crowding 
into the aisles and we had to move along with the others, so there was 
no chance for anything more at the moment. Still I had an idea 
it was as good as settled. 

At the curb our porters had a taxi waiting, here she held out 
her hand to me and said, "Thank you a lot for a pleasant journey. 
It's been nice to know you. Goodbye." 

This was not at all what I was expecting, it rather knocked 
me off my balance. True she had not said yes but she had not said 
no. Perhaps I was expected to be more persistent. Very well, my 
girl, I thought ; you shall have it your own way. I handed her into 
the waiting taxi, insisting I would see her safely to her destina- 
tion, with the idea of playing up to her whim as we drove along. 

It was not to be so simple as all that, however. Instead of going 
to the far side she sat quickly in the seat next the open door, put 
forth her hand again and said, "Thank you for everything. Don't 
spoil it. Goodbye ; you've been very kind." 

What could I do? Nothing but just what I did do. Have the 
porter take my luggage off, raise my hat to her and watch her drive 
away, standing there by the curb feeling very much the fool and 
and then turning in time to find the porter grinning at me. I 
cursed him and told him to find me another taxi. 

Reaching my hotel I took a much needed tub, dressed and 
went for a walk. A good lunch later on put me in better spirits. 
I tried to argue that possibly I would not have found her as at- 
tractive in town as she had proved on the train, perhaps all was 
for the best. I could not make it very convincing though. 

During the afternoon I attended to the business which had 
brought me here, spent rather a stupid evening and next morning 
went on to New York. 

Back from my holiday I found things piled up at the office 
and was kept busy for several days with little or no time for any- 
thing else. Once in awhile I would think of beautiful dark blue 
eyes and all that might have been, but most of all I think my 
thoughts went back to that strangely unflattering dismissal at the 
station in Montreal. It was all over now, no good having any 
regrets at this late day, forget it. Suffering pride I suppose it 
was, I had thought I was a very devil of a fellow and had taken 
it on the chin. 

One evening several weeks later, walking along Fifty-seventh 



The Girl at Thorp's 87 

street after dining uptowai with some friends, I reached that neigh- 
borhood of the Hghted shop windows and picture galleries which 
occupy several blocks. Particularly was I interested in some of 
the pictures and had stopped to admire a Venetian of very splen- 
did color when I was conscious of a slight touch on my arm. I 
paid no attention at first, then it happened again unmistakably this 
time and I turned to see who was nudging me so persistently. 

At my side stood a young woman looking in the window. I 
saw at once she had all the appearance of a distinct type often 
to be seen in this neighborhood; they are unmistakably to be rec- 
ognized, a certain hang of the clothes, kind of walk, an air of 
going nowhere in particular, in fact the whole atmosphere is in- 
dicative of the type and seldom to be mistaken and although this 
girl was simply standing by me I placed her at once as one of our 
ladies of the evening. 

She went on looking in the window but knew I had turned 
to observe her, I am sure. I was not at all surprised when I heard 
her say: 

"Hello, are you out for a walk.?" 

Something about the sound of the voice was familiar to me. 
Where had I heard that voice before? I looked closely at her face 
and at that instant she turned toward me and I got a good look 
at her. There was an immediate recognition by both; I stood 
speechless, not a word would come out. On her part she was as 
dumb as I, she dropped her eyes and in a second turned and 
walked away from me. 

Good God ! How was such a thing possible ? This was my fish- 
ing girl, the girl of the Montreal train, the same one I had found 
such an interesting companion, the girl of such uncompromising 
morals. Oh there must be some mistake somewhere. I must have 
been wrong. It wasn't the same. I would hurry after her to make 
sure there had been a mistake. 

Of course that was all just sheer nonsense. It was sure enough, 
perfectly sure. There had been no mistake, I had recognized her 
beyond all doubt and she had also recognized me. 

So I didn't follow her. I couldn't somehow and there wasn't 
anything for me to say. I realized that when I thought the thing 
over. So instead I started off in the opposite direction, turned the 
next corner and went in at the first place to get something to drink. 



Cock$ Mu$t Fight 
Ly Tneoaore Pratt 



"It'd pleasure me some to see cockfightin' in tills pit." Piper 
Jentry spat a stream of tobacco juice. The brown spittle, emerg- 
ing from his loose lips, hit the white Florida sand at his feet with 
a faint plop. A chameleon, disturbed where it lay hidden under 
the spray of a palmetto leaf, scuttled to another safety, changing 
from green to gray as it entered the hot morning sunlight. Cocks, 
confined in their crates, stretched their necks and crowed lustily, 
defying the day of death before them. 

The men stirred. They murmured and began movements. It 
was Piper Jentry's privilege to signalize that greetings were over, 
that there had been enough discussion and examination of birds, 
enough boasting, and that it was time to begin the main. Piper 
was recognized as the local expert on cockfighting, as the best 
handler of birds, as having the most successful cocks. He raised 
them on his small truck-farm in the muck land back near the edge 
of town and people said if he knew as much about truck-farming, 
and put into it the same enthusiasm he had for cockfighting, he 
would be a rich man. 

Now he stood quiescent except for the quick movement of his 
jaws as he chewed. His little gray eyes darted through the crowd, 
blazing with scornful interest at the other men bending over their 
crates, lighting with fierce anticipation when he glanced at his 
own. His thin, light hair w^as already tousled, his puffy face was 
flushed, his arms, inside his w4iite shirt, hung down along the sides 
of his full body like those of a chimpanzee. 

A tall thin cracker approached him holding a red cock in his 
hands and asked, "You got somethin' to meet this'n?" 

Piper glanced negligently at the bird. "He don't look hardly 
conditioned," he said. "You ever fight him before?" 

"Maybe not," the man admitted defensively, "but he kin likely 
lick ary yourn." 

Piper waved this aside. "Let's have somethin' with someways 
experience first," he put the cracker off. "I'll kill that red later." 

The man took his bird back and another stepped forward with 

88 



Cocks Must Fight 89 

a black cock. "You know this one, Piper," he said good-naturedly. 
"He's won twice, once over you." 

Piper recognized the cock. "I forget exactly what he weighs." 

"Right about an even four." 

"I've got a part Spaniard that'll come two-three ounces of him." 

"Which way?" 

"Won't be over." 

"Let's see him." 

Piper went a couple of yards to his light truck where it was 
parked in the shade of scrub palms, undid some fastenings, and 
pulled out a mottled cock that looked about with bold inquiry from 
beady dark eyes. 

The man holding the black cock examined the Spaniard, tak- 
ing care not to touch it. "What're you fixin' to fight him for?" 

"I'll fight this Spaniard for twenty-five dollars. He ain't worth 
noways less'n." 

The other man hesitated a moment, thought, and agreed, "I 
surely take it." 

The birds were weighed in by the Sheriff, who was fittingly 
the greatest cockfighting enthusiast in the county and who acted 
as referee. As soon as it was over, Piper said, "Let's get'm heeled. 
Somebody make a book." Piper handed the Spaniard to the man 
acting as his helper, who sat down on the running-board of the 
truck and held the cock firmly, its legs sticking out so that the 
stumps of its natural spurs, which had been shaved to bluntness, 
pointed upward. 

Piper obtained the green metal fishing-tackle box he used to 
keep his equipment in, and knelt on the ground before his bird. 

He felt of its stumps to see if they were clean and smooth, then 
fitted over one of them a small square of chamois with a hole in it. 
Judiciously he took out a gleaming steel spur with its wicked three- 
inch curve to a needle end, and tested its point on his finger. Not 
satisfied, he sharpened it with a bit of fine sandpaper. He fitted 
its band over the stump on the bird's leg, getting it tight by taking 
it off repeatedly and wrapping thin strips of chamois around the 
stump. When the set of it, straight with the leg and pointing down- 
ward, passed his critical judgment, he bound it fast in place with a 
length of waxed cord. Then he started on the second one. 

While he worked, a young man in a stiff straw hat went about 
making a book on the fight and getting it covered. Piper was first 



90 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

asked how much he wanted of it. "I reckon ten," he said, "no, make 
it rightly fifteen." He kept on working, concentrating on his job. 
A group shuttled back and forth between him and where the black 
cock was being heeled. Piper usually kept up a running banter 
with the questions asked of him by the bettors. But today he 
merely answered, "I believe in this cock forty dollars worth." He 
seemed abstracted, appeared to have something on his mind apart 
from cock-fighting. Which was strange for Piper. 

When his helper stood up for the clipping, Piper worked in 
silence. He sheared the Spaniard's wings and tail briefly. He 
frowned, made as if to say something, then didn't. He clipped 
almost to the skin under the cock's body to lighten in and lessen the 
chances of it getting spurred there. He didn't hear the Sheriff 
ask him if he was about ready. He kept on clipping, thinking 
whatever it was he was thinking and trying to say it. Finally he 
did say it. Without looking up, Piper announced gruffly, "My 
wife had another kid last night. Biggety young un, too — weighed 
ten pounds." 

This information considerably enlivened the already spirited 
proceedings. The men knew Piper's wife from his having brought 
her to the mains. She didn't come often. She didn't like cockfights. 
She was a timid, pretty little thing, much younger than Piper. 
He had taken her out of an orphanage and married her after his 
first wife died. They already had one child, a girl of two, and with 
the news of a second, huge comment broke out at Piper. Remarks 
were made about the unusual weight of the baby, about Piper's 
concurrent abilities as a father, and such things as when he was 
going to fight it. A bottle of whiskey was offered to Piper to drink 
from, but he refused. He busied himself with letting his bird peck 
savagely at a piece of sliced apple. There was a pouting, rather 
antagonistic, serious expression on Piper's face. He opened his 
mouth to say something more, as if to add to his news, but the 
Sheriff interrupted by calling, "Let's have a cockfight, Mr. Jentry." 

"Havin' it right on. Sheriff." 

Piper took the Spaniard from his helper and made his way 
with the others to the pit. The pit, the center of the place three 
miles from town where the mains were held every other Sunday, 
was an octangle fifteen feet across, dug two feet deep in the sand, 
and supported at the sides by wide, unpainted boards set in at a 
slant. Above it, covering also the benches for spectators and the 



Cocks Must Fight 91 

beer and sandwich stand, was a rickety awning made of old pieces 
of canvas and rusty sheets of corrugated tin. 

Piper spat out his tobacco, washed his mouth with water from 
a bottle his helper brought along, and descended into the pit with 
his bird. The other man was already there, holding his black cock 
under one arm carefully so as not to hook himself on the spurs. 
The Sheriff let his paunch down into the pit and with a stick drew 
three lines in the hard clay floor. One he drew across the center, 
and one parallel about three feet on either side of this. Then he 
announced to the crowd: 

"I ain't so sorry I won't let y'all know I got ten dollars on the 
Spaniard and if anybody objects to my jedgin', let them say now or 
hold their peace. I usually favor the other side to my own." He 
looked around with heavy solemnity. No one spoke. He turned to 
the other two men in the pit with him. "Bill your cocks." 

Piper and the other man made shoulder-high lunging motions 
at each other with their birds. As the cocks came together, one 
would dart out with his beak and grab the other by the comb, 
hanging on until pulled away. This was repeated a number of times, 
each bird getting angrier and angrier, before the men stood back 
with them. 

The Sheriff took out his watch and stared at it. Piper stood 
tensely a foot back of the outside lines, holding his bird 
high above his head w^here it could breathe fresh, moving air. 
"Get ready!" the Sheriff warned. Piper squatted on his heels, let- 
ting his bird to the ground and holding it by the tail as it strained 
and lunged to get at the bird opposite it held in the same way. 
The Sheriff cried, "Pit'm !" 

The two cocks dashed toward each other, met, pecked wildly, 
flapped their wings, and separated. Instantly they came back to- 
gether again, jabbing ferociously with their beaks. The black cock 
got Piper's Spaniard by the comb and held on tenaciously. The 
Spaniard shook loose, danced back, leaped into the air and slashed 
at his opponent with flashing spurs. One spur missed, but the other 
caught in feathers and flesh on the breast. The crowd yelled as 
both birds went down in a tangle, struggling. 

"Handle your cocks!" the Sheriff cried instantly. "Handle 
them cocks!" 

The two men knelt swiftly by the birds. Piper gently withdrew 
his Spaniard's spur from the other bird. He stepped back with his 



92 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

bird and held it high in the air, waiting for the Sheriff to start 
them again. 

Four more times the birds met, sank steel and had to be sepa- 
rated. On the last pit the Spaniard got it in the neck and drooped 
perceptibly. Piper held the side of the cock's open beak to his 
mouth and spat in it. He smoothed its ruffled feathers and pinched 
its comb. The cock freshened. 

The next time they ran toward each other the Spaniard, full 
of fury, jumped into the air before they met and sank the end of 
one of his spurs half an inch in the black cock's brain. It happened 
so quickly that the crowd didn't know what had occurred and didn't 
start to yell until the black cock lay dead on the floor of the pit 
and the Spaniard stood over him, stretching his neck and crowing 
in triumph. 

Piper, grinning, showing his yellow teeth, picked up his win- 
ner and caressed it lovingly. Bets were paid off by the bookmaker, 
joking recriminations heard out and answered, and the crowd drib- 
bled away from the pit back to the cars where the birds were kept. 

Other fights were held, and Piper was always in the pit. If he 
wasn't fighting one of his own birds, he handled those of others. 
He won more times than he lost, and once when he lost he said 
philosophically, expressing all his deep passion for the spoii;, 
"That's cockfightin'." The preoccupied manner he had early in 
the morning deserted him entirely, and if he had anything more 
on his mind in connection with the birth of his new child, he had 
forgotten about it. No one mentioned the baby again until along 
toward noon during the rest period when the crowd was bigger and 
the beer and sandwich stand was doing a rushing business. Then 
someone asked, "What you callin' your new young un by. Piper?" 

Piper, seeming to recollect something, frowned, and replied 
shortly, "I cain't properly call it nothin'." 

"Can't call it nothin' .^^ What's troublin'.? Ain't it a sure enough 
male or female, one?" 

"It was a he right enough. But I reckon it weren't hatched 
right, so it never was alive." 

The men stared at Piper. In their glances and in the momen- 
tary arresting of their movements, was a commentary on him. But 
no one expressed it. They fell silent except for awkward expres- 
sions of wonder and sympathy here and there. For a moment Piper 
acted as if he was going to answer them with an outburst, but 



Cocks Must Fiffht 93 



evidently he changed his mind, for instead he demanded, "How 
about a cockfight? Let's have a cockfight." 

Piper's shirt became splattered with the blood of the cocks and 
with his own when he was accidentally spurred handling the birds. 
As if the sight and smell and feel of the blood stirred him. Piper be- 
came more and more engrossed in the fighting. A fixed look came 
into his eyes. The taste of his hobby was so strong, and he drank 
so much of it, that he appeared to be as drunk with it as some of 
the men were who worked at bottles they had with them. Piper 
got so he would do almost anything to get another fight going. 
The cracker with the red cock had kept pestering him for a fight, 
and finally Piper told him, "I'll give you a cheap fight for five 
dollars with a blinker half a pound under that thing you're boastin' 
on. The red's dead already." 

This time the betting went against Piper. The crowd didn't 
think his blinker could best a heavier two-eyed bird. Over and 
over the bookmaker announced, "There's ninety dollars on the 
red. Any of you crackers or gentlemen want to cover it? The 
blinker's the winner." But no one, not even the Sheriff, who re- 
ligiously bet on Piper, believed him. Piper glared. Recklessly he 
said, "I'll take it." This seemed to relieve the exasperation notice- 
able in his manner since the beginning of the day. Curious stares 
went on him. It wasn't like Piper to make a foolish bet, and this 
was a very foolish one, which he deserved to lose. 

The two cocks circled each other warily before they struck, 
the blinker always keeping the side his good eye was on turned 
toward his adversary. He was an experienced bird, and not easily 
caught off guard, but the red was quick and darted in. If he had 
known how to fight with spurs he could have ended it swiftly, but 
his attack became ludicrous when he hooked his own spurs together, 
laying him out helplessly. During that pit the blinker sank a spur 
harmlessly in the red's wing and they had to be handled. 

The red cock ran circles around the blinker and tired him out. 
Again and again he hooked the blinker, so that blood began to 
show. But he didn't know how to make a kill and the blinker fought 
on, always with his head a little to one side, looking out of his 
only eye. After awhile the red began to slow down, losing his im- 
petuosity. Then the blinker got to work. But he was weak by this 
time and couldn't get high enough in the air to inflict a mortal in- 
jury. The fight became a pecking contest, with the birds so ex- 



94} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

hausted that they could barely stand. Finally the red had enough. 
He wanted to go home. He turned tail and ran away and wouldn't 
fight unless the blinker followed and attacked him. The bHnker 
got him down, and pranced around, pecking at his head. 

"Count for me," said Piper. 

The Sheriff counted, ponderously, up to ten. "One for Mr. 
Jentry," he said. 

The two men stepped in and gathered up the cocks. Piper col- 
lected saliva in his mouth and, kissing the blinker, gave it to 
him. He took the comb of the bird between his lips and sucked 
it. He caressed it and held it high in the air while the Sheriff drew 
two more lines on either side of the middle one, this time only a 
foot from it. The cocks were too far gone to travel the greater dis- 
tance attacking. 

Piper had to get three counts of ten in succession and then a 
count of twenty to win. If the red fought at any time, all counts 
were off. Piper worked mightily over his bird, spitting into its 
beak and licking its comb, sometimes taking its whole head into 
his mouth. He lost his count of ten, got two more, lost them, and 
started over again. At last he got three, and the count of twenty 
began with the red inert on the ground, the blinker pecking at his 
eyes. Piper warned the cracker to withdraw his bird or it would be 
killed. The cracker stubbornly refused. While the Sheriff counted, 
the blinker pecked the red's eyes out and then started on his head, 
and when the red was picked up he was dead. 

Piper retrieved his cock and held it solicitously, looking at it 
and shaking his head mournfully. Blood came off on his hands ; the 
blinker was saturated with it. After a moment, while the crowd 
watched, the blinker's neck drooped and then swung all the way 
down. Though it was still breathing, it was certain that it wouldn't 
be able to survive its injuries. 

Tears came to Piper's eyes as he carried the blinker to his 
truck. He muttered brokenly something about it being against 
all law and nature for a bird to die that had won such a game fight. 

He blubbered about having to kill it to end its misery. He 
took out his knife, struck a tragic pose, then with infinite regret in 
every line of his gesture, cut the blinker's throat. The bird twitched 
as the little blood remaining in it began to flow out slowly. 

As Piper stood there holding the bleeding bird, a newcomer 
who had just arrived from town came up to him. When he saw 



Cocts Must Fight 95 

Piper an astonished look came to his face and he stood there staring 
at him. Piper saw him and looked back at him vacantly for a min- 
ute. Then he seemed to return from somewhere and remember some- 
thing. He glared at the man, mumbled, and suddenly accused, 
"You're wantin' to say about my Missus." He turned to the crowd 
and announced bluntly, "She's dead, too." 

This time the men froze in their places. They looked at Piper as 
if seeing another man there. They looked at each other. They 
looked at the limp blinker upon which Piper had lavished so much 
affection. "You mean to say," one of them asked, "your wife died 
last night givin' birth and you're here today cockfightin'.^" 

Piper whirled on him. "You see me," he said harshly. "And 
y'all'd be mighty disappointed if I didn't come with my cocks as 
you was expectin'. I purely don't know what you're takin' shame 
about. Come on," he said at large, "how about a cockfight .^^ Let's 
have a cockfight!" 

"Mind that!" someone exclaimed. "Mind it!" No one else said 
anything. 



The Battle Royal 

Ly Lewis Herman 



Sam had met Charley Simms at Fat's Chili Parlor on 47th street. 
Charley was a sport. Charley was a pimp. Charley sold "happy 
dust." Charley Simms was the man to see on the South side when 
there was a "battle royal" to be put on at a stag affair or a lodge 
meeting or at the Fight Stadium for the North Side stiffs. 

Sam was munching a hamburger at Fat's place. His last nickel 
had gone to the purchase of it. He looked out of Fat's fly-specked 
window with a faraway glaze in his eyes. His jaws moved rhyth- 
mically up and down on the hamburger. 

Charley took one look at Sam's powerful frame. He saw the 
heavy back muscles bunched under the shoulder blades. He saw 
the cloth of Sam's coat sleeves drawn taut over the muscles. He 
approached him without hesitation. 

"Wotcha doin' t'night, big boy.?" 

Sam turned to see the flashily attired Charley Simms at his 
side. He knew him for what he was. Everyone knew Charley Simms 
and his rackets and shied away from him and his dubious business 
propositions. Somehow or other he fixed it so that the other guy 
held the dirty end of the stick. His middle name was trouble. But 
Sam wasn't disturbed. His nature wasn't the kind that was easily 
stirred. Thoughts stir. Sam's kind was slow to thought and slow to 
action. Instead of resenting Charley's intrusion, Sam grinned from 
ear to ear and drawled out slowly, "Nawthin' !'* 

Charley looked down at the hamburger in Sam's hand. This 
boy'd be havin' coffee if'n he had the dough, he thought. "Howdja 
like t' mek yo'sehf a piece o' change?" 

Sam gulped down the wad of sandwich he had bitten before 
answering. Then he said, "What doin'.^^" 

"Strickly legit, big boy, strickly legit!" 

"What doin'?" 

"Oh! . . . the boys is gonna have a li'l fight down at the Sta- 
dium on Belmont Avenoo . . . Nort' Side ... I been pickin' me 
up some o' my frien's so's dey can make deyselves a piece o' 



change . . ." 



96 



The Battle Royal 97 

"What I gotta do?" 

Charley hesitated. "Oh! . . . jes' put de gloves on an' box aroun' 



some . . ." 



"What I git?" 

"Ten bucks an' a meal th'owed in . . . twenny if'n ya wins" 

Sam continued to chew on his hamburger. He realized that he 
had spent his last nickel. He owed his landlady three bucks for 
a week's rent. He'd been laid off from the Stockyards. And there 
wasn't any dough in sight. Except what Charley Simms was of- 
fering. But you gotta be careful of Charley. His middle name was 
trouble. But Sam squared his shoulders as he turned in his seat 
to Charley. He felt the muscles uncoil beneath his skin. Might get 
you a black eye, he thought. Worth ten bucks. Mebbe twenty if 
you won. Twenty bucks! Room rent paid. Stutson hat, hot high- 
valler, gin an' flat! Stutson hat; Hot dawg! 

"0. K. Charley!" he said. 

Charley wrote the address on a tissue-paper napkin and handed 
it to Sam. "Dere's de place. Be dere seven o'clock. Got any fight 
togs?" 

"Nawp !" 

"Guess yo' kin fight in yo' shohts an' socks." 

Sam looked down at the scribbled address. It was upside down. 
He couldn't read. But he didn't care to let Charley know that. 
Instead he asked, "How 'bout cahfare?" 

Charley gave him a twobit piece. "Keep de change, big boy, 
but gimme a good fight !" He started off. "I be seein' ya !" 

"Yeh!" Sam said. He turned around to the counter when he 
saw that Charley had left and called for Fat. "Gimme a fry chicken 
san'wich, cawfee an' pie!" he yelled. 

He had to walk fifteen miles that evening in order to get to the 
Fight Stadium on the North Side. 

That was how he found himself in the dressing room of the 
Fight Stadium. He had just discovered that he was scheduled to 
fight in a battle royal. One of the other colored boys squeezed into 
the tiny cubicle had told him. Sam wasn't exactly afraid. Nothing 
scared him. He'd been able to take care of himself in the past. 
But it was only that he had never fought in a ring before. He'd 
been in dozens of street fights. As a creeper to some comely married 
wench's backdoor, he had been caught a number of times by an 
irate, cuckolded husband and had been forced to fight. But this 



98 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

was to be a battle royal. Hazily, lie recalled some of the details of 
his job. You got into a ring with a lot of other fellows. Then you 
began hitting the next guy. The one who stood up to the end won 
the fight. Shucks ! he thought. That was easy. He grinned. All y' 
had t'do was t' fake a knockdown. Hell! you'd be one of the first 
t'drop. You make yourself an easy ten bucks an' a feed. Let some 
other damnfool nigger get all slammed up for twenny bucks. 

He sat on his box and watched the other negroes in all degrees 
of undress. Some were showing off in front of the others by shadow- 
boxing in their socks. Others were sitting around, like Sam, wait- 
ing for something to happen. Only one of them appeared to be 
happy about it. He was a big blueblack nigger. Six-foot-six of 
solid brawn and bone, he towered in his stockinged feet. His head 
scraped the ceiling as he naivel}^ flexed and unflexed the cordoned 
muscles of his arms and back. His white teeth stood out against 
his skin like snow crystals on black velvet. He knew himself to be 
the physical superior of any there. And he revelled in the knowl- 
edge. Some of the others eyed him fearfully. Sam yawned and lis- 
tened to the hisses of the crowd upstairs filtering through the crack 
in the wooden partition. 

The amateur bouts dragged on. Occasionally, Sam saw the 
handlers drag an inert colored boy past the door. Others, in tights, 
with flaming bathrobes flung around their shoulders, were able 
to walk by on their own feet. But their faces were all battered up. 
Yet the spectacle of their bloodied countenances didn't worry Sam. 
He knew what he was going to do. Ten bucks was ten bucks. He'd 
take a couple of socks any time and then lay down, for ten bucks. 
He was a wise nigger, this boy was, he thought. Sam heard the 
house quiet down. He pushed his ear closer to the crack in the wall. 
Something was going to happen. Somebody was screaming out 
words at the top of his voice in shrill tones that carried into every 
part of the Stadium, even down into the basement dressing room 
by way of the crack through which Sam was listening. The others 
with him stopped chattering. The big, black bucknigger sat down 
on a bench. His liverlips closed, dissolving the snow crystals of 
his teeth back into his blue-gummed mouth. 

"Ladies an' gennelmen!" came through the crack in the wall. 
"We're gonna p'sent now the feature o' the evenin'. You all been 
settin' here an' waitin' fer this here feature, I know. So I'm not 
gonna say much except t'say 'at the management ain't responsible 



The Battle Royal 99 

for what happens affer this. Ladies an' gennelmen ! It's my honor 
an' privilege to announce a battle royal between twelve o' tlie black- 
est, huskiest an' biggest colored fighters on the South Sidel" 

A colored second in a turtle-necked white sweater came into 
the dressing room. The sweater was flecked with blood. "Come on, 
boys !" he called out, "you're next !" 

For a moment, all hesitated. The Big Boy hung back. Sam 
jumped up and strode out fearlessly. The rest of the gang sham- 
bled after him, the Big Boy winding up in the rear of the doleful 
procession. They trailed up the stairs from the basement, down 
the main aisle of the arena and finally into the ring. 

Sam blinked his eyes as he wormed himself under the ropes and 
into the blinding glare of the floodlights above. He advanced to 
the center of the ring and stood there grinning. The others fol- 
lowed him and huddled around the center with him. They looked 
bewildered. None of them had evidently been in a boxing ring 
before. 

The crowd in the arena was roaring in laughter. The negroes 
looked an ungainly lot. Attired in tattered tights, some in 
B. V. D.'s, others in the bottoms of their athletic underwear and 
one in the lower half of a long-legged pair of woolen drawers, they 
looked like a set of Shakespearean clowns in an hilarious farce- 
comedy. The Big Boy dropped his fear the moment he saw the 
audience. His infectious grin returned to his face. He began to flex 
his muscles, strutting around the ring like a peacock. Occasionally, 
he would throw a remark to one of the ringside customers. The 
others in the room grew more uncomfortable. They stared out into 
the sea of white moons that stretched out into Godknowswhere 
and wondered what it was all about. Sam spied a chair in a corner 
and immediately appropriated it for himself. The crowd roared 
its approval. Laughter rippled from one side of the house to the 
other. Soon, the entire assemblage was howling in laughter. Even 
the frightened negroes in the ring dropped some of their bewilder- 
ment and grinned. The joke was on them, they knew, but it was 
worth ten bucks. 

The announcer, a short bald-headed man of slight build, slid 
under the ropes and advanced to the center of the ring, pushing 
some of the negroes aside. His white shirt shone under the battery 
of lights overhead. He threw his hands into the air for silence. 



100 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Gradually, the house quieted down. Then he began in his shrill 
voice : 

"Ladies an' gennelmen! This here's gonna be a battle royal. 
I guess I don't hafta say anything else. Las' man up is t' get the 
gran' prize!" He turned to the negroes in the ring. "You unner- 
stan', boys, 'at all ya gotta do is sock each other. Give the cus- 
tomers a run for their money, see!" 

One of the negroes piped up: "Whey's de gloves, mistah.^^" 

The announcer laughed. "Gloves hell! What God give ya fists 
fer, huh.^ This ain't no Sunday school meetin'. This is a fight. 
Come on, boys ! Le's get ready ! Git yer dukes up now ! When the 
firs' bell is rang, you jus' lay onta the nex' guy, see! Las' man up 
standin' gets the gran' prize!" He ducked under the ropes and 
went over to the timekeeper. There w^as a lull. From the gallery, a 
voice boomed out, "Let 'er go, shines!" The cry was taken up 
from the other side of the gallery. Someone in the main floor echoed 
it. Soon, the whole audience was crying for action. The negroes 
stood stockstill. Bovine expressions crept into their eyes. Against 
the white canvas, their glistening black bodies stood out like jet 
inlaid into marble. Suddenly, the announcer gave the timekeeper 
a signal. The timekeeper pulled the knotted rope he had been 
holding. A bell clanged under the platform. Nothing happened. 
In the ring, like great apes, their arms dangling at their sides, 
the negroes looked at each other and then stared out into the vast 
sea of faces. 

Somebody pulled the chair from under Sam. He sprawled down 
to the canvas. The crowd burst out into laughter. Sam arose quickly 
and looked around. He was mad clear through. 

"Who done dat.^^" he bellowed and he looked around truculently 
as if to pounce on the nearest man. Somebody in the center of the 
frightened group pushed somebody else. Somebody else pushed 
somebody else. A heavy fist flailed through the air and landed 
with a dull thud on another's jaw. Fists flew like hail. Someone 
spit blood. Another slipped in it and his flying hands smacked 
a neighbor in the face. Snorts of rage flew from the fighters. Round 
and round they milled. Each began to smack the other. Blood 
streamed from their mouths. Sam found himself in the middle of 
the fray. He took it easy. Then he fell into a clinch with one of the 
negroes. 

"Tek it easy!" he whispered into the other's ear, tapping him 



The Battle Royal 101 

lightly on the shoulder, meanwhile. They separated. The other 
clinched with another and informed him to "tek it easy." Soon, the 
whole group was "tekking it easy." The crowd, noting this drop 
in the heat of battle, cried out its anger to the fighters. "Fight! 
fight !" they hollered. Some screamed, "Fake !" Others called, "Take 
'em out !" Shortly, the entire audience was crying, "Fake ! fake !" 

Then, almost as quickly as it had taken them to ease up, the 
fighters became serious once more. Someone had hit Sam a bit 
too heavily on the ear. He felt it. It throbbed under his touch and 
began to puff up. He saw red. Someone had hit him on the ear. It 
tingled from the blow. Warily, he put his dukes up again and 
circled around. His eyes alighted on the Big Boy who was still 
grinning, his teeth agleam with the reflections of the floodlights. 
Sam slid off a light blow from one, hopped across another who 
had fallen and, w^hen he had finally maneuvered himself into a 
position behind the Big Boy, he drew his arm back and w4th a 
mighty heave threw his clenched fist into the Big Boy's face. The 
Big Boy staggered a trifle. He turned and saw only a couple of 
others who were sparring lightly. Bellowing like a berserk bull, he 
leapt between the two sparring ones. Right and left, with only two 
blows, he knocked both of the men down. Both jumped up imme- 
diately and rained wild fists onto their nearest neighbors. All for- 
got their vow^s to "tek it easy." They became Africans once more. 
Occasionally, a snarl would come up from the mass, like the snarl 
of a wild beast at bay. Clothing was torn loose. 

The crowd, too, had gone mad. Women, their eyes popping 
from their sockets, their tongues hanging from their mouths and 
laving their lips, shrieked themselves hoarse. Men, standing up in 
their seats and unable to keep their feet still, WTnt through the 
motions of fighting and danced a w41d rigadoon on their chairs. 
Bedlam broke loose both in and out of the ring. Up in the bal- 
cony a dozen small fights had started. 

In the ring, three of the combatants had already fallen uncon- 
scious to the canvas. Around them milled the other nine, at times 
grinding the faces of the fallen ones into the resinous surface of 
the canvas. One weazened negro was worming his way through the 
fighters and was sniping the others behind the ear with stinging 
potshots. With each punch delivered, he would back away from 
the melee and wait for another prospective victim to leave himself 
wide open. He kept these tactics up until he grew negligent. He 



102 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

didn't see the Big Boy come rushing up to him. With one power- 
ful swipe, the Big Boy shot out his arm, caught the weazened 
one in the pit of the stomach and lifted him clear out of the ring 
over the ropes and into the laps of the excited ringsiders who 
pushed the whining negro underfoot and concentrated on the mur- 
derous onslaughts in the ring. 

Only hve of the original dozen were left standing. The Big 
Boy's grin was still spread over his face. He was enjoying himself 
immensely. So far, with the exception of Sam, none of the others 
had reached him with a telling blow. Sam was pummelling a light- 
brown boy whose knees were gradually weakening so that, with 
each blow that Sam landed on his upturned face, he sank lower 
and lower until one vicious jab that dislocated the bones in Sam's 
knuckles sent the yaller boy sobbing into the canvas. Sucking 
the blood from his bruised fist, Sam found himself attacked in the 
rear by a tall, gangling, spindly-shanked fellow with a mad, 
wicked gleam in his eye. The other eye had been completely closed. 
Having rid himself of the highyaller, Sam now concentrated on 
spindlyshanks. The thin lad was wiry. Every ounce of him was 
bone and gristle. Again and again and again Sam punched rights 
and lefts into the lean one's face while the other directed terrible 
jabs into Sam's midsection. The thin one's arms continued to jab 
with machine-like precision into Sam's belly. And, at the same 
time, Sam continued to shove short, powerful blows into the other's 
features which were now almost smeared beyond recognition. His 
nose had been mashed flush with his face and was bleeding. Sud- 
denly as Sam raised his right again to throw it into the gory face 
again, the spindly one, with a soughing sigh, sank and his knees 
buckled under him like a broken straw. Sam hadn't even landed 
the blow at all. The other had simply wilted down. 

Four were left battling upright. The Big Boy was engaged in 
a terrific manifest with, what appeared to be, a professional who 
had been rung in to stimulate the lagging fighters. Back and forth 
the pro's fist sank into the Big Boy's midsection, into his groin, 
into his face, into his neck, all over. The Big Boy, still grinning, 
was taking everything that the pro was giving him and more. 
With a quick sidestep, he stepped away from one of his oppo- 
nent's haymakers. The pro saw the Big Boy's fist coming at him. 
But he could do nothing to avoid it, for he was caught off balance 
by the force of his own unlanded blow. Straight, swift and sure the 



The Battle Royal 103 

Big Boy sent his right fist whanging, whamming into the guts 
of the pro three inches below his belt buckle. The pro sank to the 
floor with a wail of anguish. His whole body doubled up into an 
agonizing knot. His roars reverberated to the rafters until some- 
one's foot caught him squarely under the chin and kicked him into 
limbo. 

At this same moment Sam was just finishing off his own op- 
ponent, a short powerfully built negro with shoulders a yard wide. 
Sam considered. Should he drop now or should he go ahead and 
try for the extra ten bucks? The moment he began to think of 
monetary matters his opponent sensed a lapse in his attack and 
bombarded Sam with a rapid-fire series of blows that sent him 
sprawling to the floor. At the same moment the Big Boy discov- 
ered what he thought to be his last opponent and he bore down on 
him like a squealing mastodon. On one knee and balancing himself 
on his knuckles, like a sprinter, Sam w^atched the two swing blows 
at each other. He backed himself into a corner and took a series 
of short deep breaths. Blood was running freely from his right 
eye. His cheeks were puffed almost to twice their normal size. 
His right ear was dangling from the side of his head. But through 
the eye that was not bothered by the blood, Sam saw the Big Boy 
beating down the third member of the trio. Sam took another 
deep breath. And when he saw the third one drop he leapt up like 
a tiger and fell onto the unsuspecting Big Boy. 

The Big Boy was taken by surprise. He had thought that he 
was fighting with his last man and had consequently put his all 
into downing him. This sudden onslaught of a fresher opponent 
almost bowled him over. But with his feet set wide apart and with 
his soles firmly gripping the canvas under foot, he stood opposite 
Sam who was similarly stanced and exchanged blows with him. 
The difference between the one who fell and the one who remained 
was ten dollars, the price of a broad-rimmed Stetson hat. Their 
eyes vividly demonstrated this difference. Swinging rights and lefts, 
they banged away at each other, neither relenting an inch, neither 
daring to allow his gaze to w^ander from the other's face. Blow 
after blow landed on each other's body. And with each blow the 
audience roared itself into hysterics. 

Blow after blow. 

Roar after roar. 

The blood streamed from both the combatants. The sweat 



104 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

streamed from the faces of the audience. The Big Boy was still 
trying to grin. Sam was sobbing. The tears coursed down his cheeks 
and mingled with the blood and sweat which all tasted bitter in his 
mouth. 

Blow after blow. 

Roar after roar. 

The pair stood and traded blow for blow as the crowd bellowed 
roar after roar. They could go on swinging forever, it seemed. 
Nothing could drop these two leviathans of swat. Huge towering 
hulks of flesh, these two animals tore at each other with their 
fists shooting up and back like a quartette of pistons. They were 
wild animals. And the wild animals in the audience lapped their 
tongues over their chops at the sight of blood, hung onto the edges 
of their seats and screamed at the tops of their voices in sheer 
madness. It was over in a second. 

One . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five . . . six . . . seven 
. . . eight . . . nine . . . ten solid blows Sam smashed into the jaw 
of the Big Boy. And after the third consecutive blow the audience 
took up the toll and counted each separate smash as it zipped 
through the air and landed on the Big Boy's chin. The Big Boy's 
arms thrashed about ineffectively. Three . . • four . . . five . . . six 
. . . seven . . . eight . . . nine . . . ten. And with the tenth blow the 
grin on the Big Boy's face slowly contracted. 

He dropped like a heavy sack of potatoes. 

Sam stared around at the carnage around him. One of the 
negroes was snivelling in a corner. Two others were moaning into 
the canvas. The professional had come out of his kick in the jaw 
and was groaning softly, with his hands clasped around his groin. 
He had retched and the drool had rivuleted down through the 
corners of his mouth. A pile of negroes were unconscious in a heap. 
At his feet Sam saw the prostrate body of the Big Boy. He didn't 
hear the loud roars of approval that were coming from the crowd. 
He didn't feel the coins that they were throwing at him. A sickly 
smile came into his face. The faraway glaze again covered his eye- 
balls. And in the nimbus that hovered around the floodlights he 
saw gleaming a brand new twenty-dollar golden eagle. 

"Hot diggity dawg!" he cried out. "I gits me a new Stutson 
hat!" 



,5ji 



A Pitcher Grows Tired 

Dj Asnley Buck 



RoDKiN WALKED across the field to the clubhouse. Burke and Peck 
were beside him. The crowd gathered close around and it was diffi- 
cult to move. They pulled at Rodkin's uniform and slapped his 
back. Once he had liked that in a crowd. His heart liked it now, 
but their friendly grasping wore his body to exhaustion. They 
came to the edge of the field and walked under the bleachers and 
into the clubhouse. Inside there was an odor of sweat, dust, lini- 
ments and steam from the hot showers. Rodkin liked the smell: 
strong, human, earthly. It was a smell you never forgot and 
during the long winters when there was no baseball you got lonely 
for the smell and wanted to bring it back. 

The players laughed and hurried to get dressed. They spoke 
of the splendid game Rodkin had pitched. He wondered if they 
knew how fortunate he had been. If Blake had known how tired 
he was he would not have been overanxious. He would have waited. 
Blake and others would not always be young and inexperienced. 

Rodkin did not hurry. He sat dowTi and slowly unlaced his 
shoes. His hands shook. All the strength was gone from them. Peck 
spoke to him, low, not wanting anyone else to hear: "You still got 
plenty of guts. You've always had the heart." 

Rodkin kept his eyes on his shoes: "And I have plenty on the 
ball too." 

"Yes," said Peck. 

"I can put it anywhere Burke says." 

"I know that." 

There was a silence. Rodkin slipped off his shirt. The muscles 
in his shoulders throbbed like hearts. His eyes never met Peck's. 

"You got the guts," said Peck. "I never knew you had so 
much. You looked like a million dollars in there." 

"Yeah," said Rodkin. 

*'And you felt like two cents." 

"I was all right." 

"You were fine." 

106 



106 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Peck moved away. There was a gnawing feeling in Rodkin^s 
chest, a dull pressure at the back of his head. 

The players left the building and only the trainer, Rodkin 
and Joie remained. Rodkin lay upon the table. He closed his eyes 
and let his body relax. It was a pleasant feeling that brought a 
soft ache to his stomach. He seemed to sink into nothingness. 

*^Take it easy," he told the trainer. 

"I've taken it easy for years," said Hank. 

Hank took more time to rub down Rodkin than he did anyone 
else. Rodkin knew this. The massaging hurt. Not a painful hurt; 
only the hurt of wanting to be hurt, wanting the body gently tor- 
tured for the relief that came afterward; for the fine feeling after 
the fingers left the sore spots. 

"You and Burke won today's game with your heads," said 
Hank. 

"Yes," said Rodkin. 

"Your arm had nothing to do with it," said Hank. 

"Burke's smart." 

"You're smart too," said Hank. "You've always been smart." 

"No one is smarter than Mr. Rodkin," said Joie. 

Rodkin opened his eyes. He had forgotten Joie was there. "For- 
get the Mister, Joie. I'm only one of the players." 

"No, you're not." 

"You're anything but that," said Hank, 

"Why do you call me Mister, Joie?" 

"It's like I told you. There are ball players you call by their 
first names, ball players you call by nick names and then there 
are the ones you call Mister. You couldn't call them anything else." 

"And I'm a Mister.?" 

"Yes." 

"If you had known Ty Cobb, what would he have been.?" 

"Mister Cobb." 

"He was the very best, Joie. There's never been a player as 
great." 

"You're as great a pitcher as he was an outfielder." 

A strange look passed between Rodkin and Hank. Rodkin 
closed his eyes and turned his head away from Joie. He spoke 
softly: "Thanks, Joie. That's the nicest thing ever said to me. 
As great as Cobb." 



A Pitcher Grows Tired 107 

A calmness settled over the clubhouse. The only sound was 
Hank's hands rubbing Rodkin's body. 

Joie sat thinking. He spoke : "Cobb could hit even when he quit 
baseball, couldn't he, Mr. Rodkins?" 

"He was always dangerous. Even at the end his eyes were sharp 
and few players hit better." 

"It was his legs, wasn't it? He wasn't fast anymore?" 

"That's right. He wasn't fast. He played his last two years 
in the outfield on a dime." 

"But he could still hit?" 

"Always." 

^'Damn the legs," said Joie. "Damn them !" 

"Even at the finish he was beautiful to watch. He had a sixth 
sense. Speaker had it too. They knew where to play a ball. I've 
seen them not have to move two feet to take a line drive. Their 
legs lasted longer than most legs do." 

"They were the last word," said Hank. "They had everything." 

"Everything," said Rodkin. 

"I never saw either of them," said Joie. 

"Then you've never seen the outfield played," said Hank. "And 
if you never saw Sisler, you've never seen first base played either." 

"That's right," said Rodkin. 

"I've missed those things," said Joie, "but I've seen Mr. Rodkin 
pitch and that makes up for them." 

A silence. Joie walked over to the table and put his hand on 
Rodkin's back: "How do you feel?" 

"Fine." 

"You're not tired?" 

"No. I'm not tired." 

"You pitched a swell game today." 

"Thanks, Joie." 

*'I have to run along. I'll see you tomorrow." 

"Yes." 

"Goodbye." 

"Goodbye." 

Hank's hands never left Rodkin's body. His fingers worked in 
and out between the muscles. Rodkin's tiredness went away. 

"O. K.," said Hank. 

"0. K.," said Rodkin. He got off the table and began to dress. 






108 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"You should have married," said Hank. "A ball player needs 
a wife." 

"I've never been able to find a girl who sees baseball as I do." 

"It's not too late." 

"Yes it is." 

"More women come to the games every day." 

"It's a fad," said Rodkin. "Few really like it." 

"My wife likes it." 

"She's different." 

*'When you stop winning games Joie's heart will break." 

"We all stop sometime," said Rodkin. 

Hank spoke, casually, quietly : "Some pitchers pitch years with 
their heads." 

"Yes." 

*'I've known pitchers who stayed around two and three years 
that didn't have a thing on the ball — just brains." 
'Johnson pitched a long time like that." 

'Yeah, and Alexander too," said Hank. "If a pitcher keeps 
getting smarter and doesn't bear down too hard — except in the 
pinches — he could stay around as long as Quinn did. He was near 
fifty before he left the majors." 

"He was a spitball pitcher." 

"That makes no difference. He had nerve and a head. You have 
them too." 

They looked at each other. Rodkin lowered his eyes. He slipped 
on his coat. "So long," he said. 

"So long," said Hank. 

Rodkin walked out of the clubhouse. He wanted to see the 
park again. He wanted to go back a long way. He stood in deep 
rightfield and looked across the diamond to home plate. A great 
stillness lay over the field and stands. There is no lonelier place in 
the world than a ball park when the crowd has gone and it is 
cleaned out and in the west the day swiftly dying and nothing 
remains but a quietness that seems to speak. Inside Rodkin was 
filled with an emptiness. An aching loneliness started at the pit 
of his stomach and crept slowly upward past his chest, lingering 
in his throat. Whenever he spoke of those men a dullness came 
to him. Once there had been something and now that thing was 
gone. Once, long ago, he had pitched to those men and now they 
were no more. He remembered Cobb standing at the plate, kid- 



A Pitcher Grows Tired 109 

ding liim, calling him a dumb rookie. Cobb was nearing the tiring 
age then. Who was it that said Cobb's only weakness was a walk.^ 
It was true anyway. 

His eyes went to the green of the outfield. Speaker, Hooper 
and Cobb were ghosts running swiftly to catch long low drives. 
Their figures were silhouetted against the blue horizon : satyrs rac- 
ing gracefully over the fresh spring earth to catch a white ball 
no larger than their closed hand. They had been great men and 
great players. Rodkin wanted to pitch to them again, but they 
had gotten tired and gone away. Their hearts had remained en- 
thusiastic but not their bodies. He too was tired and like them would 
some day go away. He felt fine after the rubdown, but knew he 
would not be able to pitch any real ball for four days. Peck would 
not ask him to pitch until then. Peck was saving him. Rodkin 
wanted to be saved. Baseball was a part of him and he could not 
imagine what he would do without it. There is a difference in 
liking to see it played and in liking to play it. He wanted to play 
it forever — to pitch big league ball until he died. The great play- 
ers he loved were gone, but every spring would bring new players 
and like young Blake some would stay and grow older and become 
smart, that is, if they had the courage and were thoughtful and 
listened to what was told them and did not dissipate too much. 
They would stand before Rodkin with confidence, the crowd roar- 
ing or sitting in hushed stillness, and it would be their thinking 
against his. There would always be young players staring into 
the sun, dreaming of being as great as Cobb or Sisler, and maybe, 
one or two would reach that goal and he would then be too old 
to pitch to them. 

, And Burke? Burke must be tired. But he wasn't. Not until 
he straightened up a trifle to throw to second base. He would then 
be tired and the afternoons seem long and endless. And shortly 
after that time he would find there was to be no more afternoons. 
Rodkin never wanted to see that day. . . . To wipe the vision away 
he sank the palms of his hands against his eye lids. 

He moved slowly away. All days wouldn't be like today. He 
could stay a long time if he pitched with his head. He could stay 
for another three years — maybe four. He would have to be careful. 
He would have to be smart. 



Everything in the Fifth 

Ly Maxence Van Der Meerscn 



Fr]6d:6ric Hallemart, all alone, looked at the little basement 
room where, before him, so many actors, strolling players, cIowtis, 
athletes, and animal trainers had lived in expectation, before of- 
fering themselves to the crowd. It was a low nook, arched, a kind 
of kennel, between enormous brick posts which had to support all 
the accumulation of benches in circus. A washstand, two iron 
chairs, two armchairs, a divan where Hallemart was stretching 
out his naked, hairy, and muscular legs, and in a corner, under a 
mirror lighted by an electric light, a dainty dressing table, a 
small piece of slender furniture, loaded with pots, tubes, sticks, 
tufts and brushes, all the effeminate paraphernalia which is usually 
used by actresses, and which had not been moved. A red carpet with 
big flowers hid the pavement of uneven bricks. 

On the ceiling ran large tubes, conduits of water, steam, or 
gas, like the bundles of arteries of the gigantic building whose 
growling murmur Hallemart could hear above him. 

The crowd filled the sides of the stone structure. Exhibition 
matches, the "hors d'oeuvres," attempted to distract its impatience 
while waiting for the single match that it wanted: Kid Brown vs. 
Hallemart. 

The narrow little door, with its glass peephole, gently opened. 
Sulton appeared, smooth-faced, his hair gray, and showing his 
gold teeth in a vast smile. 

"Everything all right? You're ready to fight? How's your legs? 
Your stomach? You want anything to drink or eat?" 

"Come in," said Hallemart. "No, nothing." 

The manager came in, and sat down on the edge of the divan. 

"I've thought it all out. Give everything you've got about the 
fifth round, Freddy . . . Your breathing, hey? You know it's your 
weak point . . . Later would be too long . . . You would lose your 
power . . . Everything in the fifth . . ." 
'Don't worry," said Hallemart. 
'It's going to be all right?" 

"It has to be all right. It's our big chance . . . Money, engage- 

110 



6i' 



Everything in the Fifth 111 

ments, America, the championship. Everything depends on today, 
you know it well enough." 

"Yes . . . But what a business ! If we win the land of the dollars ! 
The press for us ! Contracts ! The movies ! Everjrthing. . . . Every- 
thing. . . . My boy, I'm telling you! If you can knock him down 
in the fifth round, and look out for his left ..." 

Someone had just knocked at the door. It opened. A young, 
blonde woman, her hair curled on her forehead halo style, very 
slender in a long coat of white ermine, appeared and stopped, 
smiling. 

"Can I come in?" 

Sulton was scowling. 

*'0f course," said Hallemart. 

"I've come to bring you courage." 

"You're sweet . . . thanks . . . it's nice of you." 

"To tell you we all count with all our hearts on this victory! 
You understand.^" 

"Yes . . . Yes ... I have to ... I understand . . . You're going, 
Sulton?" 

"I'll leave you," growled Sulton, going out. 

The door slammed behind him. 

"He's like that," explained Hallemart. "More nervous that 



am." 



"You know all your friends are counting on your triumph?" 

"Yes. Yes." 

*'I want this victory for you !" 

"I hope too that ..." 

^'Think of the future it will assure you." 

She looked at him. She wore a strange half smile. 

^'America, glory, fortune ! a beautiful dream to live 1" 

*'And that you promised to live with me, Paule." 

She sat down beside him, in the place Sulton had left. Halle- 
mart took her hand. She drew it away. Again she smiled. 

"We'll see, we'll see . . . Today will decide . . . But I have lots 
of confidence. It will be you who will show me New York. Do you 
know that my cabin is engaged on the He de France?'^ 

"Already?" 

"Already ! That's to say that I definitely count on this victory. 
I must have it." 

"And I'll bring it to you this evening !" said Hallemart. 



112 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

She got up. He wanted to hold her. 

*'So soon, Paule? Just one minute." 

But she evaded him and sHpped outside. She opened the door. 
She blew him a kiss with her pink fingers. 

"Tomorrow . . . Tomorrow." 

And she disappeared. 

Hallemart sat down again. He sighed. He looked at his fists. 

He opened and shut his hands, that massive joining of bone, 
tendons, and flesh, those hands that soon would win glory, money, 
love. America, escape, far from chains, his wife, his household . . . 
A new world, liberty for years . . . And Paule ! 

He had been married for ten years. Jeanne Hallemart, the 
companion of his early hours, had shared the anguish, the trials, 
the early privations with him. Hallemart looked at her only as a 
maternal friend, complaisant, attached to him like a faithful dog. 
He had nothing but a rather distant tenderness for her now, in 
which memories and pity entered more than love. 

During the six months that he had known Paule Miserand, he 
had been bewilderingly smitten. 

He did not know too much about this woman's past, a wife 
profitably divorced from a big English industrialist. She had over- 
powered him. Her elegance, her chic, her allure, her language, all 
the tricks of a woman who has known the world, and has acquired 
a dazzling polish, fascinated Hallemart. She herself, more than 
she would have wished, submitted to the ascendancy of this great 
fellow, simple, worn, taciturn, but who did not pass by unper- 
ceived, who represented all the same, in his sphere, an energy, a 
will, a force. And now two recent fights had caused to converge 
on Hallemart the projectors of reality, making him a star, the 
press shouting his name to all the echoes, putting him up as the 
future champion of the world. In this adventure Paule IViiserand 
ended by being a victim, and was caught herself. 

She was leaving France in a month. If he won tonight they 
would leave together. Hallemart would have exhibitions, matches, 
movies, for two years over there. He would leave his wife, Jeanne, 
alone here. She was already warned. And he didn't admit, even to 
himself, his inner secret intention of never returning to Europe. 

Overhead, a hollow, confused growling arose. The crowd. 

Hallemart looked at the time. Still seventeen minutes ! It would 
be long, that wait. 



Everything in the Fifth 113 

A confused mob jammed itself against the vast sides of the 
stone circus. The crowd was besieging the CoHseum. Privileged 
people could scarcely open up a passageway. People indulged in 
an extraordinary trade of tickets, they wagered, they argued. 
Announcers yelled out the losers and coming matches, without 
anyone paying any attention. Hallemart was being quoted at three 
to one. 

In the midst of the cries, the arguments, the comments, Jeanne 
Hallemart crept with difficulty, slowly advancing toward the cir- 
cus. She had not said she was coming. Usually she never was present 
at her husband's fights. This time she had come by stealth. 

She listened to all these people talking of Hallemart, discussing 
him, appreciating him, comparing him with his rival. She felt 
people had confidence in him. And she no longer knew whether she 
was happy or heartbroken. At heart she would have wished defeat 
for her husband. If a conqueror, she well knew she would lose him. 
Vanquished, humiliated, held close to her, attached again to her 
by defeat, perhaps she could reconquer him. Then she thought of 
the crushing, the suffering of her beaten husband. And she no 
longer knew what she wanted. 

The circus was immense and circular, resembling a vast basin 
in which the crowd was boiling. In the center of the very high ceil- 
ing, supported by slender cast iron columns and drowned in a dusty 
vapor so dense that it was no longer visible, there hung, here 
and there, metal reflectors, from which spread out over the tumul- 
tuous swarm, large livid patches of light cut into zones of penum- 
bra, where heaps of people tossed about. Exactly in the center, 
small, strangely shrunken in the middle of the enormous edifice, 
was the squared ring, spread round with ropes, and bathed in an 
intense white light by arc lamps. Sitting up in the four corners 
were cameras, pointed like guns, which were menacing this block 
house draped in tri-color hangings. Half hidden behind a column, 
as if she feared that Hallemart would see her, Jeanne waited, her 
head empty, her ears buzzing from the monotonous and deafening 
grumbling that filled the place. 

There was a sudden clamor. Everybody got up, howling and 
gesticulating. She no longer saw anything. She did not feel strong 
enough to get up as did the others. She stayed there, behind the 
column, so upset as to be almost fainting. And in a few seconds. 



114 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

when silence rendered the multitude mute and fixed, she dared to 
reopen her eyes, lean over a little, and look. 

Yonder, in the little square, in the swelling light which cut the 
penumbra that bathed the amphitheatre, two silhouettes, one white, 
the other black, watched each other, circled, flung out a fist, drew 
back, and returned, with the caution of two cats watching each 
other. Around them came and went the referee, in flannel trou- 
sers and a Lacoste shirt. The fight had begun. 

Hallemart, agile, revolved around his adversary, as though 
trying to discover his weak point. Kid Brown, small and heavier, 
firmly planted on his massive legs, his round torso dented by the 
muscles jutting out under the brown skin, contented himself with 
facing forward, parrying, escaping, almost without moving from 
his place. Stiff, her hands convulsed on the arms of her seat, Jeanne, 
silent and suspended like all the crowd, followed every move of 
the two men. This waiting prolonged itself during the first round. 
Then the gong rang, breaking the magic which had held back the 
shouts and whistles. And suddenly, the noise of conversations, dis- 
cussions, arguments, while the two boxers rested, each one sitting 
in his corner, and watching the other with a furtive eye, or looking 
out at the crowd. 

At the moment Jeanne recognized her rival, near the ring in 
the middle of the fashionable young men and women. In a de- 
collete evening gown, Paule Miserand, with a corsage of roses less 
fresh than she, was in triumph like a happy young queen. She 
must have been sure of victory. No pang, no uneasiness darkened 
her smile. From her place she waved a handkerchief of embroid- 
ered linen toward Hallemart, who was searching for her with his 
eyes. 

Hatred, jealousy, sorrow, deluged the heart of Jeanne Halle- 
mart with a sudden flood. She was suddenly and intensely aware, 
with a violence and precision she had never known up to now, of 
everything that this treason and abandonment meant to her, this 
Calvary that would begin after the fight. She understood better 
what she was going to lose — ^what this woman was going to take 
away from her — and how she had come to assist at the crashing of 
her own happiness. . . . And, looking at her husband getting up to 
enter upon the second round, she thought and wished with all her 
might : 

"Let him lose! my God! let him lose!" 



Everything in the Fifth 115 

Already the two men were at it, fighting brutally hand to hand. 
Breaking away suddenly, they closed again. The referee ran up, 
waving his hands. Hallemart received a left to the liver, tottered. 
Everybody shouted. Already he resumed the offensive. And ten 
seconds later, a short right hook, heavy, hard, launched with all 
the force of the shoulder and body, reached the jaw of Kid Brown 
whose guard was low, and literally threw him to the mat in a heap. 

Under a tempest of yells the referee counted out the seconds. 
Kid Brown got up at six, tired, reeling, his eyes haggard. He hesi- 
tated a second, head down like a buffalo mad with fury. One no 
longer saw anything but the two bodies pressed together, tied each 
to each, and hammering each other with terrible, short blows. Jeanne, 
stiff, biting her handkerchief, forgetting everything, saw nothing 
but this narrow rectangle where two men were fighting. And the 
crowd around her, panting, electrified, groaned hollowly at each 
blow, as if everybody suffered and struck with the two. 

"Break! Break 1" cried the referee, without succeeding in tear- 
ing them apart. 

They were no longer masters of themselves. The gong didn't 
separate them. The referee made them give way, beating them 
apart by forcibly throwing himself between them. 

During the interval, Sulton whispered his advice to Hallemart, 
who nodded his head. 

The manager was right in counseling him to hurry, to profit by 
his advantage. The same violence marked the third round from its 
start. Kid Brown, thrown into the ropes, hammered Hallemart's 
sides, and he, with head lowered, guarded his chin with his open 
left hand, and sought to strike the Kid directly in the solar plexus 
with his right. The crowd yelled. The referee was able to bring the 
two adversaries back into the middle of the ring for an instant. But 
Hallemart again knocked about the Black, pursued him, block- 
aded him in a corner. Kid Brown, bent in two, his fists in front of 
his face, slunk away. Again they came back to the center. And 
again, the same right hook to the jaw threw Kid Brown to the floor. 

He stayed there, panting. 

"One, two, three, four . . ." counted the referee, marking 
the numbers with a gesture. 

Kid Bro^Ti stayed on the floor, clumsily moving his arms and 
legs like a drunken man. And the panting crowd, standing up, 
looked on from afar, with a cry saluting each effort, each move- 



116 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ment of the little black silhouette, spread out on Its back, rocking 
its head from side to side, and painfully moving its limbs like a big, 
stunned insect. 

"Five, six, seven, eight . . ." counted the referee. 

And just at this point, the gong saved the Black. 

In the middle of a deafening uproar, Jeanne Hallemart sat down 
again. Finished! It was finished! She wept. Around her, fever 
over-excited the crowd. 

"Kid Brown's done for!" 

"That right-handed blow, splendid!" 

**He won't last two more rounds!" 

*'I told you so . . ." 

*'He'll be licked, and not on points. A knock-out !" 

"It's over!" 

*'And before three rounds !" 

^'Provided that the Black doesn't give up too soon . . ." 

*'It's too short ! We're being robbed . . ." 

^'Donkey! You're talking" 

Standing near the ring, she saw her rival, motioning, waving 
her hand, exulting, triumphing. She hated this woman, this robber 
of joy ... to whom all happiness came ... on whom fortune was 
again going to smile, sacrificing an unhappy woman. And she saw 
how much, up to the present, she had hoped in spite of all to keep 
her husband, to see him come back to her, conquered and humili- 
ated, returned to wisdom and reason ... It was finished now, all 
the acts had been played. 

Hallemart certainly wanted to finish It. He attacked fiercely. 
Kid Brown, a little restored but frightened, shielded himself, drew 
back. It became a chase. Cat calls were heard. Twice a hook to the 
ear made the Negro stagger. People laughed, booed. Someone cried : 

"Not so fast! Hallemart! Not so fast!" 

Hallemart was becoming enervated. This pursuit winded him. 
He was able to block the Black in a corner, attack him face to face, 
let fly a direct blow from the right to the full jaw. The Negro tot- 
tered, remained upright. Then, with all his might, Hallemart 
launched another blow with his left. And suddenly he was heard 
to howl, he drew back, took his left hand In his right, grimaced 
with suffering. The whole amphitheatre stood up with a single cry. 

Kid Brown, weary, was still standing by a miracle of energy, 
like a bull waiting for the blow of the hammer. He must have under- 



Everything in the Fifth :117 

stood. He returned to Hallemart and took the offensive. And Halle- 
mart, in his turn, drew back, ran away, and evaded him. Twice Kid 
Brown's right struck his left hand which was open to block, and a 
grin of pain was visible on Hallemart's face. He didn't dare use 
his arm any more. He parried with his right as well as he could, 
uncovering his face. And Kid Brown pounded his cheeks, his nose, 
his eyes, his mouth . . . 

Between the rounds a bubbling rose in the crowd. They argued. 
A broken wrist? Sprained? What was going to happen? Abandon 
the fight? Kid Brown's victory? Bets were again taken up furiously. 
A brawl broke out behind Jeanne Hallemart. Lost, upset, bent for- 
ward, she watched the distorted face of her husband, reading there 
his suffering and despair. His arms crossed, panting, he shook his 
head at Sulton, who was feeling his forearm and speaking to him 
in a low voice. At the gong he went toward his adversary and 
tried two or three terrible right hooks, without success. The other 
saw his advantage, attacking him on the left, always the left, aim- 
ing at his face which Hallemart covered only with his right hand. 
In a minute Hallemart's face, swollen, puffy, cut open, bleeding, 
was opened up in large splinters of flesh. He parried clumsily, 
seeking a clinch, was rebuked by the referee. In the sixth round 
they began to whistle at him. He was enervated, uncovered, was sent 
to the mat for eight seconds, got up, blind, spitting blood, to fall 
in the ropes under a swing. He hung there like a rag. There was a 
concert of protestations, whistlings, booings. Hallemart raised his 
broken fist, showing it in vain to the pitiless mob. Unchained, it 
now wanted his defeat, his crushing. It applauded each blow that 
felled him, like a drunken woman whom the sight of blood finishes 
by glutting. It laughed when the Black's fist crushed his lip, cut his 
brow, tore from him a howl of rage and suffering. He wept! He 
sniffled from blood and from tears. Furtively, on the back of his 
glove he wiped his face, besmeared with tears, sweat and blood. And 
Jeanne wept with him, forgetting her spite, her own sorrow, her 
suffering as a wronged and abandoned wife, everything she had 
feared from this victory. She thought of it no more. She no longer 
saw anything but her husband, her poor Frederic, her great, beloved 
boy, who was suffering, who was going to be beaten, and who would 
not raise himself above it. And to spare him this despair, she offered 
a sacrifice. She begged: 

"Let him win! my God! Let him win! Let him go away with 



118 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

her, but let him win ! Anything for him ! Anything so he'll be happy. 
I'll accept everything. I'll renounce everything." 

She well knew now that she could not build joy on the un- 
happiness of this man, and that miserable, abandoned, betrayed, 
she would be happy again, if he were happy. 

He returned to renew the combat. He stood it two minutes more, 
beaten, pounded, and standing, offering himself to the blows, sus- 
tained by who knows what formidable obstinacy, not to fall, to 
stay upright, like a target offered to the Black's blows. He didn't 
even parry them any more. He was now only a benumbed thing, 
worn, with no other thought than to last, to hold himself erect. Sul- 
ton threw in the sponge. He didn't even see it. He still advanced on 
Brown. They had to intervene and stop him, lead him away like a 
sleepwalker, dull, stupid, looking at his broken left fist, while a 
giant clamor filled the vault of the circus in honor of Kid Brown. 

Paule Miserand, standing, a little pale and biting her red lips, 
went out in the middle of her court, vexed and smiling. Jeanne 
lost sight of her in the crowd, and did not see her again. Already she 
no longer thought of her rival. She slipped through the crowd, 
found a taxi, and flew to the clinic to find her beaten husband, and 
since she hadn't been able to offer her happiness to him as a sacri- 
fice, to console him, took half the cross for her. 



M.y Liife with a Stuffed Sailfish 
Ly RoLert Warner 



If Andrew Jackson hadn't waded In and attached Florida to 
the Union there would now be an awful depression in the ware- 
house industry. To the man who introduced hobnails and cigar 
butts to the White House floors, the storage business owes a debt 
it will never pay. Warehouses put up a wide variety of stuff : baby 
carriages, bureaus for the maid's room, photoengravings, moth- 
eaten deer heads, and so on. These articles, which come from all 
over the United States, are good but transient — in other words no 
staying power. Baby carriages are hauled out and employed for 
more babies, the bureaus go up to Yale, photoengravings are given 
to a nice old aunt in St. Louis, and deer heads wind up in barber 
shops with sad expressions in their glass eyes and hats on their 
antlers. Dependable is what these things are not ; they're like rail- 
road securities, they come and go and eventually — like a bat out 
of hell — they're gone forever. So if you're a banker preparing to 
make a loan on one of these gaunt edifices there's only one way 
to be absolutely safe: go through it and count the stuffed sailfish. 
When one of these Palm Beach to Miami creatures passes into 
storage he's there for good — as much a part of the place as the dust 
on the basement floor. 

The day George got back from Florida and came piling into 
my office rubbing his hands together and saying, "Ahh!" I pre- 
pared to explain this to him because I saw right away what had 
happened. They're always like that at first — as though they've 
just swallowed the canary, or wrung a dictator's neck. 

I said, "George, did you content yourself with having the 
damned thing photographed?" 

He sat on the corner of my desk and took a deep breath. 
"Listen, Harry, wait till I tell you — " 

"Don't," I said, "I already know. You caught a sailfish and 
are going to have it stuffed." 

He said, "Gosh! How'd you hear about it? Of course, the 
papers. Know what I'm going to do? I'm going to give it to Edith 

119 



120 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

for Christmas. Boy, won't she be surprised? She doesn't even know 
it's being mounted." 

I nodded. "She'll be surprised all right. That's one thing you 
can count on. If you live from now till the sun turns into an ice 
cube you'll never forget the look that's going to spread itself over 
Edith's face when you inform her that instead of getting that 
winter coat she's after she's to be presented with a stuffed fish. 
Even now when I remember breaking the news to Katharine it 
makes me feel as though I'd just fallen out the window." 

"Oh!" he said, in a very dejected manner. "So you caught one 
too? I suppose yours was a small one." 

I sighed. "If only it had been. Believe me when you have a 
thing like that pursuing you through life every inch is something 
to remember. Unfortunately mine is seven feet ten. I suppose yours 
is too. As far as I can find out they're all seven feet ten except 
when caught by Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey. It must 
be the stock size." 

"Know how many times mine jumped?" he inquired. 

I said, "It's not important — at least not as long as it didn't 
have the decency to jump off the hook and stay where it belonged." 

George said, "You should have seen the last run he made. I 
had him right up alongside — " 

"I know," I interrupted, "When he took one look at you and 
the boat and turned around and hauled out a quarter of a mile 
of line. They always do it ; it's in their contract." 

"Captain said he'd never seen anything like it in all the years 
he'd been going out. Said when it swung around and started out 
to sea that way he'd have given fifty to one odds against my 
catching it." 

I groaned. "Those were my captain's exact words. And after 
that, when they have you thinking that what you really ought to 
do is go on a lecture tour and write books about yourself, they 
rush you in and introduce you to the taxidermist who tells you your 
fish is one of the finest specimens he's ever seen and would you 
mind letting him have it for the Museum of Natural History. At 
that instant it comes over you that the one thing you can't do is 
part with this acquisition, whereupon you sign up for a Grade A 
mounting job. You then get your fish hung up and have a lot of 
pictures taken at a dollar per while they go on home and divide 
up the spoils. George, for goodness' sakes wire that guy you're 



My Life with a Stuffed Sailfish 121 

about to file a petition for bankruptcy and ask him if he'll settle 
for twenty bucks and keep the fish." 

"Look," said George, handing me a photograph of himself 
and catch. "What do you think of it? Pretty good, don't you 
agree?" 

"Magnificent," I agreed. "Now then, the thing to do is to have 
it made into a Christmas card and send it to everyone you know, 
and stop there. It's enough. If you don't believe it ask my wife, 
or your wife, or ask the man who owns one." 

He put his hands behind his head and gazed up at the ceiling. 
"I suppose the best place for it will be on the north wall." 

"You mean," I inquired, "The one where the portrait of Edith's 
grandfather now hangs? I suppose she'll be prett}^ happy when 
you tell her that picture has to go in the closet." 

George said, "It is kind of a problem. If the picture weren't so 
darned big we might put it in the bedroom." 

"Why don't you cut it in half?" I suggested. "You could throw 
the legs away and just keep the top part. Or better still, you might 
slide the whole thing under the bed. Then when Edith wanted to 
show it to someone she could get down on her hands and knees 
and use a flashlight." 

George said, "By the way, Harry, do these taxidermist guys 
demand the whole hundred and twenty-five bucks on delivery?" 

I shook my head. "No indeed, they're very obliging. I took six 
months with mine. Matter of fact it's a good idea to pay for 'em 
catch as catch can — kind of gets you warmed up to your life's 
work." 

"What do you mean, life's work?" he asked. 

"You surely didn't think the stuffing bill was the end of it? 
That's just an introduction to the business. There's the express 
charge — fifteen dollars. Then you discover the plaster isn't strong 
enough to hold your glass-eyed friend so you have to have a car- 
penter come in ^nd do all kinds of stuff to the wall. He charges you 
six dollars and when you move he comes back and charges you 
twenty more to make the place the way it used to be. On top of that 
he gets fourteen for building a crate so you can move your pisca- 
torial pal and have him arrive in one piece." 

George said, "I wish Edith hadn't put those chartreuse cur- 
tains in the living room. Chartreuse and blue . . . Hmm! Perhaps 
it'll work though." 



1^2 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"And there's your Louis XIV furniture," I added. "Nothing 
like a stuffed sailfish to set off plush and gilt." 

"Oh, by the way, Harry, there's another thing I wanted to 
ask you. How much ceiling height do you need? Our living room's 
only ten feet." 

"That's plenty," I assured him. "That'll put his tail about 
three inches above the sofa. And if it's not enough you can bore 
a hole in the ceiling and have him sheathe his sword. We only had 
nine feet in our first apartment." 

"How'd you work it?" he asked. 

"Easy. We kept the fish in a vacant apartment. Only cost us 
two dollars a month." 

George laughed. "Just wait till Charley Wade sees it. Boy, oh 
boy! Him and his five-pound brown trout." He reached out and 
retrieved the photograph of himself and fish and gazed at it as 
though he and the fish were planning to be married on the first of 
the month. Then he climbed off the desk. "So long," he said. "I 
suppose I'd better go do some work." 

"Nice to have seen you, George. And listen, old man, I really 
am sorry. By the way, better let me give you the name of that 
warehouse; they'll board your fish for ten cents a month less than 
anyone else in the city." 

"Did you know they have to paint them entirely by hand?" he 
asked. "The minute they die they lose their color." 

I said, "Yes, I know." A couple of minutes later I glanced up 
and saw him in the outer office. He was showing his photograph 
to the girl at the information desk. 



The Rumhold SOO 

ty Maxence Van Der Meerscn 



In the grass alongside the road, propped up on its stand, the 
Rumbold 500 waited. 

It was a heavy motorcycle, covered with red enamel and chro- 
mium, solid, triangular, with a short, bomb-shaped tank, and low 
handlebars reversed, sticking out forward like the horns of a bull; 
two sawed-off nickel tubes ran straight back like two jets of flame, 
to spit out the exhaust gas. 

The wheels were high and narrow, mounted with thin tires. No 
mudguard, nothing but a round piece of black tin, inscribed with 
the number 23. The fat slanting cylinder butted head and valve- 
heads into the wind. 

Even while motionless, the Rumbold 500 suggested speed, sug- 
gested some short, trapped beast, ready to smash ahead like a 
projectile. 

A man came out in front of the judge's stand, and waved a 
flag. Ribieres threw his cigarette into the grass, got up, and 
pushed his machine to the starting-line. Other cyclists came along- 
side of him, in front, and behind. About fifty altogether. There 
was a fine clear sun, still rather pale, an early spring sun. Ban- 
ners and flag snapped in the wind. The stands on the right were 
filled with a multi-colored mass of spectators. On the left, strung 
the refreshment kiosks. High across the road swelled canvas signs 
in praise of motor oils and accessories. 

Ribieres had mounted the Rumbold. His body was one with 
the machine. The low saddle, entrenched between motor and rear 
wheel, gave him plenty of support. His knees and calves hugged 
the tank, flattening the leather knee-guards, holding the machine 
in their grip as a rider masters his horse. And Ribieres' two fists 
clutched the curving handlebars, holding the iron beast under con- 
trol, conquered like a thrown steer. 

A minute, thirty seconds, fifteen seconds — foot on starter, Ribi- 
eres waited. Around him, his opponents, their faces heavy under 
their helmets. 

A grinding, tearing sound filled the air. Fifty machines rolled 

123 



124< Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

forward. Only one late starter remained in front of the judges, 
furiously kicking his recalcitrant machine. 

In the howling dust, Ribieres shifted his speeds. First up to 
twenty-five, gears into second speed, and the lunge forward. The 
throaty roar of the Rumbold, up to seventy. Shift again, the quick 
cough of the motor, and then the straight, even pulse. 

Ribieres settled into his saddle, slapped the accelerator, touched 
the brake, checked his compression, glanced at the oil gauge. Every- 
thing going fine. He felt good at the prospect of three hours on 
the wheel, under the clean sun, the engine smooth, the machine 
well in hand. He quickly got up to ninety-five, a hundred, a hun- 
dred-five. 

At the end of the long straight stretch, past the stands, was 
the Glamard turn. Ribieres cut his gas, braked, felt his machine 
take the angle, and bent out to counterbalance; slowly; he pulled 
the Rumbold back to level, and accelerated. 

The needle went up again, ninety-five, a hundred, a hundred 
^ye. In speedy crescendo, the Rumbold burned up the steep hill 
that came after the Glamard turn, leaving behind a string of op- 
ponents as it shot down the other side. 

Far ahead of him, Ribieres saw a cluster of riders ; he drove in 
pursuit. They took the little bridge over the river, dove into the 
Bargin woods, disappeared. He accelerated. Over the bridge at 
a hundred ^ye, thundering through the woods, getting into the 
clear just in time to see the others disappear in the distance, making 
the turn at la Chapelle. And he had to brake, slow down. The road 
was impossible, for the three kilometers between Bargin and la 
Chapelle. 

He took the la Chapelle turn nicely, bending the Rumbold out 
to the right, throwing himself out to the left, making an acute 
angle out of himself and the engine. It was an S curve. Right, left, 
and right again. He came out of it at forty-five, saw the long, 
straight line of stands in front of him again, and the fleeing cluster 
ahead. He shifted back into second, for swifter pickup. Passing in 
front of the stands, he was going at a hundred twenty, and was no 
more than three hundred meters behind the group. Flying past his 
headquarters, he glanced at the sign they were holding out for him. 
He read his time, eleven minutes, and his average for the first time 
over the course — eighty-five. 

He caught up with the gang at the Glamard turn, wove through 



The Rumbold 500 125 

it on the upgrade of the hill, and shot down with two infuriated 
cyclists hanging onto his rear wheel. He made the bridge, the woods, 
the three kilometers of rotten road, and was at the turn of la Cha- 
pelle again. This time he tried it in second, got through faster, 
came out at fifty. And when he shot into the straightaway, in front 
of the stands, a glance behind reassured him. The two riders were 
several lengths back. He pushed after another cluster. The sign 
in front of his stand said 10:20, mth an average of ninety kilom- 
eters an hour. 

He rode that way for an hour, without tiring, with no more 
incident than a few short battles, wheel to wheel, as he passed one 
rider after another. The wind, that compact mass of air he speared 
into, howling in his ears, the dizzying vibration of the motor, the 
formidable, monotonous snoring of the exhaust, all this was gradu- 
ally deafening him, thickening his senses, until he was driving the 
Rumbold automatically, almost by reflex. He began to feel the road 
and the turns "in his hands." The Rumbold varied no more than 
five centimeters, each time around the curves and the grades. 

After an hour and a half of this, he was in third place, behind 
18 and 42. He filled up with gas again, asked how far behind the 
leader he was, and banged off. Suddenly, directly in front of him, 
42 stopped, so forcibly halted by a stuck piston that the rear 
wheel, absolutely blocked, cut a line into the road. Then he passed 
18 on the straightaway, in front of the stands. He didn't see it 
again. 

He circled the course twice, out in front. Then, on the hill be- 
yond the Glamard turn, he heard something growling behind him ; 
augmenting. A motor passed him. 

He recogniged little Gouriez, mounted on his huge Narvac 500 
motorcycle. 

The Narvac was fast enough. Ten meters behind, Ribieres gave 
his machine all it had, and yet couldn't catch up to the Narvac. 
In the Bargin woods, he was going a hundred forty. He made an 
entire round in nine minutes fifteen seconds, another in eight min- 
utes forty-five. His average speed was up to a hundred three. He 
cursed. Twenty meters, ten, five meters in front of him, but still 
in front of him, went Gouriez, doubled down over his Narvac, 
hugging it with all his body, his little head with its huge round 
helmet barely sticking up above the handlebars. And he simply 
couldn't catch up. In the straightaways, the Rumbold gained 



126 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ground. But in the turns, the Narvac scraped the pavement, angled 
with almost unbelievable daring, and escaped, taking twenty meters 
again. The chase started all over. They made one entire round of 
the course, wheel to wheel, bar to bar, flashed like meteors in front 
of the stands, with the crowd going mad. 

And on the hill after the Glamard turn, Ribieres passed Gou- 
riez, taking the lead. 

Glued to the machine, his teeth clenched, he rode the Rumbold 
like a living thing, calling upon it for every ounce of effort. The 
machine snorted like a horse, hot, sweating oil, leaping forward, 
checking suddenly at the master's touch on the brakes, trembling, 
and leaping forward again at a single bound. The overheated oil 
was a poor lubricant. Every few minutes, Ribieres worked the aux- 
iliary pump, mounted on the bars. In a black cloud, the Rum- 
bold would revive. But then she began to knock. He had to slow 
down, losing part of the lead. To make up for that, he took the 
three kilometers between the woods and la Chapelle at full speed, fly- 
ing over the jagged road so fast that he didn't notice the bumps. 
He wanted to look back for Gouriez, but that meant losing a 
second. He was in the S-tum of la Chapelle, going eighty. He didn't 
want to brake it. 

He made the first turn, with the Rumbold bent to the right, so 
low that his footrests scraped the road. He pulled her up violently, 
and threw her to the left. She went over to the very edge of the 
ditch, biting the grass, almost throwing him, but by doubling with 
super-human effort, he was able to get her up on the road again. 
At that instant, as he was bending her to the right to shoot into 
the straightaway, there was a single, terrific wrench, and the Rum- 
bold zig-zagged, the front wheel vibrating violently. The wheel 
nearly sprang out of his hands, swinging back and forth, while the 
maddened machine whirled through a series of S-tums, at terrify- 
ing speed. Ribieres hung on by his knees. He thought he felt him- 
self hurled into the air, felt death engulfing him . . . He never 
knew how he came to find himself seated, a second later, with his 
hands on the bars, still going at ninety down the straightaway. 

Only when he felt the sweat all over him did he realize how 
frightened he had been. He tested his brake— nothing wrong there. 
He glanced at his front wheel — the tire was still full up. The 
machine was not to blame. It was his own fault. He had tried to 
come out of the turn too fast. 



The Rumbold 500 irt 

The Narvac passed him on the next curve. Something stronger 
than his own will forced Ribieres to brake and slow down for the 
turn. 

He went after Gouriez again. Passed him on the hill, held his 
lead all the way to the turn at la Chapelle. Then the same reflex 
seized him, forced him to slow down. The Narvac passed him once 
more. 

He was furious. Now he knew what fear was like, that power, 
stronger than one's self, that took over one's being, canceled will, 
took direct charge of one's very muscles. He could command him- 
self, reason with himself — but fear held his hands. 

Before the S-turn, in spite of himself, he re-lived that horrible 
lurch of the handlebars, that ramming kick of the Rumbold. And he 
braked her. In the straightaway he made up his loss, tailed Gouriez, 
only to lose another hundred meters on the next turn. 

Starting the last round, they passed the stands once more knee 
to knee, glued, wedded to their machines, shot ahead like parallel 
bullets, going at a hundred and fifty kilometers an hour. Grad- 
ually, the Rumbold sneaked a wheel ahead, a length ahead, ^\e 
meters, ten meters . . . And once more, at the Glamard turn, Gou- 
riez caught up and took over the lead. Ribieres ran in his track. 
The two engines, like stubby monsters, devoured the hill, their 
growls shaking the sky; they flew down the other side, over the 
bridge, through the woods. The loudspeakers kept up incessantly: 

"Gouriez still in the lead. Ribieres, ten meters." 

"Narvac and Rumbold wheel to wheel . . ." 

"They're taking the turn at la Chapelle . . ." 

"The Rumbold loses a length." 

Ribieres saw the space between himself and Gouriez widening. 
The reckless fool was taking the curve without braking. His ma- 
chine swung down kissing the road, graceful, oblique, like the sweep 
of a wing. There was only the flattening of the front wheel to show 
the terrific pressure of centrifugal force. Five meters behind, Ribi- 
eres saw the front wheel pressed to the verge of explosion. In his 
arms, he still felt that sudden, savage revolt of his own machine. 
It was impossible to get away with what Gouriez was doing there. 
He'd spill. He'd have to spill. Now — now — ^he was spilling! With 
all his being, Ribieres wanted, hoped for, demanded that crash. 

A stallion leap, a series of S-turns . . . Gouriez flung into the 



128 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

air, the bucking machine running wild, bars broken, slamming into 
a tree . . . Then a huge spurt of flame. 

Ribieres was past it all, flying toward the stands. He broke the 
tape just as the ambulance started out. 

Champagne, flowers, handshakes, cheers, interviews . . . Ribi- 
eres let himself be dragged toward his quarters, in the midst of a 
joyous tumult in which he simply could not take part. One thought 
submerged everything else in his being. The memory of those few 
seconds at the S-turn. 

"Glad you w^on?" 

"Where is your next race?" 

"Who are you riding for next?" 

He answered mechanically. The form of Gouriez doubled over 
his machine, bending in the turn, the sudden leap of the motor- 
cycle, the body hurled into the air, that spurt of flame — all this 
rose before him with such intense clarity that his very muscles 
contracted, in horror at himself, in shame. "I wanted that ! I hoped 
for it! I willed it!" 

He had to show his face to the cameras. It was drawn, tight. He 
could barely pull up his lips for a smile. 

"Back to to^vn, now ! You're due to broadcast." 

He was pushed into a car. The huge limousine nosed its way 
through the crowd. Now they were on the road to the city. There 
were reporters in the car, they kept asking him questions, taking 
notes. 

"What about Gouriez?" Ribieres suddenly asked. 

No one knew. He had been taken to the Claude-Bernard Hos- 
pital. That was all anyone could tell. 

Just how much am I to blame? Ribieres kept asking himself. 
Just how much am I responsible? I wished that crash on him, I 
wished it with everything in me. I hated him, that moment. If he 
hadn't crashed, I'd still hate him, I'd carry that hate ... It took 
that accident to make me realize my thoughts, my wish, were crim- 
inal. If it were not for the accident, I'd never have known. 

Now he had the strange, terrible feeling of being personally 
responsible, guilty of the accident. It was as if a wish so strong, 
so savage as he had felt must have forced itself upon destiny, 
pushed fate over the borderline of hesitation. 

If he dies, he asked himself, can I ever feel peace again? 

The car stopped. They were in the France-Radio station. 



The Rumbold 500 129 

"I want to telephone," Ribieres said. 

He got the Claude-Bernard Hospital." 

"Gouriez? Yes, he's here," an interne answered. Nothing seri- 
ous. No. A broken rib, contusions, nothing serious." 

"Thanks, thanks," Ribieres said. 

He hung up, and turned toward the reporters. He was beaming. 

They dragged him to the microphone. "Hurry up. They're wait- 
ing. Are you satisfied now?" 

"Yep. Satisfied. God ! I thought he was dead !" 
'Well — that wouldn't have been your fault — " 
'I know it. I know it." Then he added something that none of 
them understood. "But I never would have forgiven myself.'* 



<61 



The Parmachene Bell 
ty Eawin L. Peterson 



"Nevertheless, here I must part with you; here in this now sad 
place, where I was so happy as first to meet you; hut I shall long 
for the ninth of May ; for then I hope again to enjoy your beloved 
company, at the appointed time and place/* — izaak walton 

Old Solomon was a fisherman and a fly tier. He was a gunsmith, 
too, and had traveled with Buffalo Bill on the Keith Circuit. To 
the boys, he was a romantic figure, dim and heroic as Robin Hood 
and Jesse James. Our fathers used to say that no one in the country 
could tie artificial flies better than Solomon. Sometimes when you 
looked at them, it seemed as though they would take wing and flut- 
ter into the dusty air of Solomon's shop. 

My mother did not quite approve of Solomon. Few mothers did. 
They said he was "given to drink." One afternoon, though, when 
my mother and I were downtown, I coaxed her until she promised 
to stop at Solomon's shop. I was seven then, and I wanted her to 
see Solomon in all his glory. 

A bell above the door tinkled as we went in. The air smelled of 
Hoppe's Number Nine and varnish and dust. There were old chairs 
and tables covered with revolvers, shotguns, and fishing rods, and 
there were four or fiYQ bicycles, too, for Solomon repaired our bikes, 
as well as our fathers' guns. 

We stayed at the door awhile. Solomon pretended he did not 
know we were there. He sat hunched over a bench, an electric bulb 
above him throwing a pyramid of dusty light down on his long, 
white hair. I went over and watched him. He was tying flies* My 
mother stayed close to the door. 

"What you doin', Sol?" Of course I knew, but it seemed proper 
to ask. 

"I'm liken to make a Yellow Sally," he said, without looking 
up from his vise. 

"Gee, she's a pretty one," I said. 

"Sure she's pretty, but she ain't no good," said Sol. 

130 



i 



The Parmachene Belle 131 

I heard my mother cough, but I did not know why. The cough 
meant that I should come to her. 

"What's that one?" I asked, pointing to a fly on the table. It 
was best, I thought, to ignore my mother's cough. 

"Thaten.?" said Sol. "That's the Parmachene Belle." His voice 
stopped, then went on. "She ain't no good either." 

The name stuck in my mind. It was mysterious and significant, 
like the Rocky Mountains and Queen Aliquippa and Lief the Lucky. 

"Why you like to make 'em, Sol, if they ain't any good.?" I 
asked. 

Then he looked up at me. His pale blue eyes looked through 
my head, looked back through the years. "They're fer old-timers," 
he said slowly, "old-timers like me an' yer dad. Someday, mebbe 
you, too." 

"Huh?" I said. 

"Folks buy 'em," he said, looking back at his vise, "jest 'cause 
they're purty." 

Once again I heard my mother cough. 

I pointed quickly and asked, "What's that one, Sol?" 

"Her? Next to that Lord Baltimore? She's jest a Flight's 
Fancy." 

Then I heard my mother's voice. "Son!" it said. It said other 
things, too, by implication. 

"Guess I gotta be goin', Sol," I said, but he did not look up. 

The bell tinkled again and we were outside. 

"I never did think much of that man," my mother said. Her 
voice was grim. 

I felt unhappy and started to tell her what a nice man Sol- 
omon was, but she only said, "Humph!" 

When we got do^Ti near the hardware store, she said, "Who was 
he talking about?" 

"Talkin' about? No one. Mother. Honest." 

"No one honest, is right," she said contemptuously. "Where'd 
he get those names if he wasn't talking about anyone?" 

"What names, Mother?" 

"Humph !" she said. 

"What names?" I persisted. 

"Lord Baltimore!" she said. 



132 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 



II 






But that was not the end. By the fifteenth of April, I was 
eight years old. In the cold before dawn, we were speeding along 
the highway towards Shade Creek. I was in the back seat. Between 
me and the misty blur from the headlights were the blackness of 
Solomon's big hat and the red glow of my father's cigarette. 

The car swerved from the highway, and we bumped over the 
rocks and ruts of another road. Soupy Campbell had caught a 
trout once, but it was just an accident. They had been on a picnic 
and he had used ham for bait. That was not right. That was some- 
thing I should never do. My father had explained it all. 

When we got out of the car, it was still dark. We put our rods 
together and threaded them. I leaned mine against the car. This 
was important. What if I should put the reel on backwards? Sol- 
omon would laugh, and my father would be ashamed. 
'All ready, boy?" my father asked. 
'Yes, sir," I said, and we started down the logging road. 

They walked ahead of me : Solomon six feet two ; my father six 
feet one, heroes against the vague horizon. The stream roared and 
whispered to our left. Solomon, Buffalo Bill, Indians, my father's 
face when he gave me my rod at Christmas, my mother's doubtful 
enthusiasm. Queen Aliquippa, stones rattling from our feet down 
the stream. Everything was cold and big. Sometimes my father 
would say something to Solomon. If I had been closer I could have 
heard, for I was old enough now. I could even have spoken. We 
walked a long way. 

When we stopped it was almost dawn. "I'll liken to go in here," 
Solomon said. "I'll be awaitin' fer you at the bridge." 

We watched him crawl down the bank. He walked out into the 
stream and I saw the water pull at his trouser legs. It was won- 
derful. Then my father started on. 

"Do you want to use worms, boy?" he said. 

"I'd liken to use a Parmachene Belle," I answered. 

"Parmachene Belle isn't much good," he said. He wiped his reel 
with the palm of his haid. "She's better for old-timers like Sol and 
me. Maybe for you, afterwhile." 

"The dull flies are the best," he said. "Anyway, I think a worm 
would be better." 



The Parmacliene Belle 133 

"I'll use a worm," I said. 

As we walked, he took a gob of worms from the bait box at his 
belt and reached over and stuffed them into my box. Mine was new 
and green, mth holes in the top. 

After while he said, "This is a good place for you to start. Fish 
down, slowly. I'll go do\\Ti a bit and fish up to you." 

"Yes, sir^" I said. "Should I use a split-shot, do you think?" 

"Yes, a split-shot would be good," he said. He hesitated, and 
I knew he w^anted to say more. 

"Son," he said. 

"Yes, sir." 

"You be careful. The water's fast and deep." 

He said it so that I did not feel hurt. "Yes, sir," I said. "I'll 
be careful." 

He looked at me a long time. "Good luck, boy," he said. 

"Good luck to you, too," I said. 

He kept on looking at me even after that. Then he turned and 
clumped down the road. For a minute I felt queer and I wanted 
to cry, but I crawled down the bank instead. 

Beside the stream, I did not thread the worm on the hook as 
I had done before for sunfish. I remembered what he had said. "Not 
for trout. For trout, you loop it." 

All day, after that, the water swirled against my legs. It was 
hardly a day at all. It was something else. It was cold like a wet 
branch against your face. It was the pale sunlight of April. It was 
manhood, muscles, and the sudden rush of a trout upstream. It was 
the desperate feel of a trout in my hand and the cruel jaw with teeth 
and rainbow colors in the creel and being alone all day to dark, ex- 
cept at lunch when my father came from nowhere to eat with me. It 
was real fishing — and for trout — with Solomon and my father and 
Buffalo Bill. It was water singing, first in the stream, then in my 
blood, then everywhere, singing and singing. And then coolness, 
and the sun going down, and shadows, and growing loneliness, ex- 
cept that sometimes I thought I could see my father at the bend 
behind me. 

In the darkness on the bridge, Solomon said to my father, "Any 
luck?" 

"Six," said my father. 

"Nine purty ones," said Solomon. 

Then my father turned to me. "Any luck, boy?" 



134 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"One," I said. 

"You caught a trout?" He lifted the lid of my new creel. "It's a 
beauty," he said, but his voice was unnatural. "Sol," he said, "the 
boy just caught a trout." 

"I'm liken to be proud of you, kid," said Solomon. My father 
put his hand on my shoulder. 

m 

I am going to Shade Creek again on the fifteenth of April. I 
shall go alone, for the two tall men who first took me there are 
fishing other waters now, and have been for many years. Perhaps I 
shall be lonely, with no one to show my trout to, and I shall eat 
my lunch alone on a flat stone in the sunlight, but there will be 
reunion, too. The stream will say familiar things, its whispers and 
its roars will be echoed from the rocks, and there will be singing 
everywhere. 

The water will pull at my boots, and the air will smell of hem- 
lock. The tips of the hemlocks will be bright green, and a chickadee 
will scold. 

All day, I shall fish against the current, sending an Iron Blue 
Dun or a Quill Gordon through the air ahead of me. The dull fly, 
I have learned, is the best. It will wing its way forward, like a living 
fly, and will curve to left or to right. It will drop like willow fuzz 
upon the water, and the leader will fall like a strand of spider 
web. Once in a while there will be an olive swirl and a splatter of 
rainbow spray, and a king of the mountain waters will sweep to- 
wards the rocks and roots. The rod will vibrate, the line will rise 
from the water, and he will take to the air again in an arc of liquid 
sunset. After a time, he will come to net and to creel. There will be 
sadness, but the sunlight will seem warmer, the air sweeter. 

Then, when evening comes and the creel hangs heavy from the 
shoulder and the bridge is only a few yards away, I shall snip the 
dull fly from the leader. In its place I shall tie a creature of gold 
and white and scarlet. I shall whip her dryly through the air and 
then send her forward, the Parmachene Belle, into the dusk. She 
is a creature of fancy and of evening. She settles on the water 
with quivering lightness and glides through the shadows like a 
luminous moth. Timeless and not of this earth, she drifts through 
the darkness and rides upon the water like the reflection of a star. 



The Parmachene Belle 135 

At the bridge I shall make the last cast. The Parmachene Bell 
is for old-timers. "Like me and yer dad. Someday, mebbe fer you." 

She will sail through the night and fall softly as a dream and 
sweep back towards me. I shall not stop her. She will sail on past 
me into the water that has been fished, and I shall turn around to 
watch her go back into currents and time that are no longer near. 

Later, when the moon comes up, I shall stand on the bridge, 
looking downstream. Through the darkness below will come the 
tinkle of a bell, the smell of Hoppe's Number Nine, two men 
walking in the dawn, loneliness, the feel of a hand on my shoulder. 
Standing on the bridge, I shall hear a voice from the moonlit rif- 
fles, saying, "Good luck, boy," and again, "Good luck." It will be 
the same voice that once talked of stars and trout and trees. 

Then I shall hear another voice. It will sound like mine, only 
older. In the bigness of the night it will say, "Good luck to you, 
too. Here in this now sad place, where our Parmachene Belle floats 
high, I send you greetings — wherever you are — greetings and good 
luck, too." 



Up Queer Street 

Ly Len Zinter^ 



After the first round Andy knew it was going to be a hard fight. 
He was fighting a tough slugger named James "Sandy" Clarke 
and he was a very dark Negro from the West Indies, much darker 
than Andy. 

In the first round he boxed well and had little difficulty in 
cracking Clarke with left hooks, but Clarke was short and chesty 
and powerful — ^his arms full of thick muscles — and he kept coming 
in, right hand cocked, taking Andy's left hooks without even grunt- 
ing. Near the end of the round Clarke let his right go and Andy 
blocked it with his arm and the arm went numb. 

When he came to his corner, Max said: "This Clarke baby 
can sure take it. That damn chin of his must be made of marble 
or something. Watch out for him — ^he can hit." 

"Don't I know! Rub my right arm. He near tore it off with 
a punch." 

"You haven't hit him with your right yet," Max said nervously. 
"You haven't hit him sohd yet. Be careful, box him all the way, 
and when you see an opening, blast his jaw off. Listen here, wait 
now and keep to boxing 'cause he's tough as hell. You can out-box 
him easy, but I think I kind of over-matched you this trip, kid, 
so be careful as hell." 

"I'm not losing this one, yet." 

"And you ain't going to ! You can trim him — if you keep box- 
ing. But be careful! Don't slug — wait till you see an opening a 
yard wide before you let your right go. And keep cool." Max's 
voice was low and tense, and he held his cigar butt tightly in the 
corner of his mouth as he talked. 

As he went out for the second round. Max said: "Keep your 
left going. Hold it in his face all the time, so's he can't get set. 
And for God's sake don't slug with him !" 

Through his mouthpiece Andy tried to say : "I won't — for my 
sake too." He felt pretty calm, this was a game, real sport; Clarke 
stalked him, right hand ready, and Andy had to jab and hook and 
run. 

136 



Up Queer Street 137 

Andy came out dancing, and lie jabbed and feinted and Clarke 
fell for most of the feints. Once Clarke took six jabs in a row on 
the face and the fans began laughing and counting out loud with 
each stinging jab. But he took them all, his dead pan never chang- 
ing. And he kept coming in, sure as a tank, coming in with that 
right ready. Crouched low, his face and body hidden behind his 
heavy arms, his small eyes fixed on Andy's chin, he came in, wait- 
ing for one good shot. 

Andy left-hooked him on the jaw and Clarke blinked and tried 
to roll with the punch, but he didn't do it very well and it was a 
hard blow and it shook him. Andy feinted with his left, as if for 
the stomachj and as the dark boy lowered his right to protect his 
belly, Andy stepped in to the left and standing flat on the canvas 
shot over his right and it hit just under the side of the jaw. 
Clarke staggered and covered up and Andy sent over two fast left 
hooks and another right, all too high on the face. He could hear 
the sudden roar of the mob fill the arena as he caught Clarke with 
another hard right just above the jaw and Clarke stumbled over 
to the ropes, his hands about his head. Andy came charging in for 
the kill and as he reached him, he saw Clarke suddenly straighten 
up, a half smile on his dark face, and he knew that he had been 
a sucker — Clarke's right was coming up from some place. 

Andy was out of position and as he frantically raised his own 
right to shield his jaw, he saw something bright and dazzling 
before his eyes. 

He stared at the bright object for a while, looking at it from all 
angles, wondering what it was and where it came from and what 
the hell happened to Clarke and the fight. It was a fierce golden- 
white brightness but it didnt seem to hurt his eyes much. Then he 
knew he was on his back and looking up at the ring lights, only 
the lights seemed very near, almost on top of his eyes. He was on 
his back, but he couldn't get excited about it. As he squinted at 
the brightness, something dark flew past his eyes and then it flew 
past again and he said what the hell.? and saw that it was the ref's 
hand. He looked up at the fat referee, who seemed very near and 
large and pinkish looking, and the ref was staring down at him 
and he had big eyes, like a fish. He saw the ref's lip form the word 
"five" but he didn't hear the sound. He sat up in the bright light 
and he could almost feel the light on his skin, and waited a long 
time till the ref's lips formed the word "eight" and then Andy got 



138 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

up. Getting up was a funny sensation, as if he were a balloon 
going up — he was just rising from the canvas — as if he were being 
lifted to his feet. He had nothing to do with it, he just thought 
I had better get up, and he was up. His head, his body, and his 
legs, seemed to be three separate parts and he had an idea his legs 
were walking away and leaving his body in mid-air. The funny 
thing was that he didn't give a damn. Then the ref was before him, 
on top of him, and everything was a blur of grey and pink. 

The referee pulled Andy to him and rubbed Andy's gloves 
against his grey shirt, to take any rosin from the canvas. Then he 
stepped away and Andy flexed his muscles and turned to face 
Clarke, on his toes and ready to box. 

The canvas w^as a sea of white, stretching for miles and miles 
and he was standing alone in the middle of all this bright white- 
ness. A dark object came hurtling across the canvas at him and a 
smaller dark ob j ect left the big dark body and came sailing through 
the air at his face. He watched it for awhile, then his whole body 
sailed backward through the air with great ease, and the dark 
round object which he could now see was a wet glistening glove, 
stopped a few inches from his face and never reached him. His 
body bent slowly and easily towards the canvas and came sailing 
up, so very slowly, and Clarke's glove with his dark arm attached 
to it, still seemed to be hanging in mid-air. Andy watched his own 
glove go flying through the air and gracefully land on Clarke's jaw 
and then Clarke's body was pressed tight against his and they were 
hugging each other. Just two colored boys in all this whiteness, he 
thought. What's he hugging and holding me for? This is nice, 
like running along the beach. I want to be free, what's he holding 
me for? 

As they clinched, the ref stepped in and quickly pushed them 
apart. 

He was no longer hugging Clarke and Andy was happy. Now he 
could feel his legs running along the long white canvas, slowly and 
easily as though he were gently tossing on a very soft cushion. The 
canvas was still long and white and he was running down the 
length of it, sometimes turning this way and that, going in and 
out, and often he felt a light tap hitting the whiteness. When these 
taps came, the whole canvas seemed to shake and he would stop 
sailing smoothly and seem to start along the canvas in rough jumps 
and bumps. Clarke was running too, often in front of him and 



Up Queer street 139 

then in back of him. Clarke would be ahead of him, running back- 
wards, and his face would loom very large and dark-bro^vn and 
handsome, so large at times that he shut out the long wide road of 
white before them. Many times he saw that round dark ball which he 
knew was Clarke's glove, come sailing up to him and fly by his 
chin and Clarke's arm always followed like a tail on a kite. Andy 
remembered a big red kite he had when he was a kid. What became 
of it.^ Tliis would be some place for kite sailing, no wires or build- 
ings to get in the way, nothing but whiteness. Often he would see his 
arm in mid-air pushing Clarke's glove away, or the glove would be 
resting on his arm like two crossed sticks. His own gloves, arms also 
attached to them, would go sailing lazily through the air and gently 
by Clarke's face or sometimes they would come to rest on the deep 
brown face and the face felt very hard. He liked this sailing along 
the canvas, it was a rich pleasant feeling he had never kno^vii before. 
This must be what they call luxury — he liked the word, for some 
reason it reminded him of Egypt and he thought of Egypt every 
time he came across it in a book. Maybe this was Egypt and he was 
running along the deseii; ? Running for miles along clean white soft 
sand, running evenly and without effort, with a warm wind all 
'round him and the bright sun overhead. 

There was a loud noise and Andy wondered if it was thunder 
and if it would rain and spoil everything. But there were no 
clouds overhead, the sky still was so bright and , , . Suddenly Max's 
face was in front of him and his mouth v/as going up and down, 
open and shut, and Andy realized that he wasn't sailing anymore, 
but hovering in one spot like a captive balloon. He wanted to 
start sailing again. Max seemed even whiter than the canvas and 
his face looked horrible and funny at the same time. He felt some- 
thing cool and comforting running down his chest, but it all seemed 
a great distance off, as if his chest were far below his feet. 

Max was talking to him and wiping the sweat from his face and 
sponging his chest with cold water ; then the bell rang for the third 
round. 

There was another great, loud noise from the other end of the 
canvas and he was sailing through the air again and Clarke was 
back, sailing beside him, in front of him, and there was a shock, as 
if he had bumped into something, and he stopped sailing and stood 
still on the white canvas for a long time. Clarke was jumping up 
and down in front of him and Clarke's gloves went sailing past his 



140 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

head, faster than before, and then he felt his toes digging into the 
white sand and saw his own glove sailing through the air as slow 
and easy as ever, and Clarke's chin was waiting for the glove and 
they met and then his right glove made a beautiful, slow arc in the 
air and came down on the other side of Clarke's chin. His left glove 
was sailing backwards now, his arm leading and the glove follow- 
ing. Something white flew out of Clarke's mouth and Clarke smiled, 
showing all his white teeth and three bright yellow ones. Andy 
wanted to smile back but Clarke disappeared and Andy was run- 
ning along the white by himself. He slowed do^\Ti a little waiting 
for Clarke to catch up with him, then he looked around but Clarke 
wasn't in sight. Far away he could see a white man in grey bend- 
ing over something dark. But that was very far away. Andy 
wanted to go over and see what it was, but he saw the ropes stretch- 
ing in perfect parallel rows for miles and they seemed so straight 
and long that he stared at them for a long time. The white canvas 
and the black ropes were lovely and he wished Ruth were \Wth him 
and that the two of them were naked and sailing along the soft 
canvas together. She would look very soft, her long legs running 
beside him, her sleek black hair in the wind, and after they had run 
for awhile, they would sit down and he would lean against her, 
feeling how soft she was, and listen to her talk. In all this whiteness 
they would sit and . . . Clarke appeared again in the distance and 
came closer and Andy saw his o\\ti gloves slowly land on Clarke's 
jaw, on one side and then on the other his dark gloves would hit 
Clarke's darker skin. Clarke was very close and their bodies were 
together and Clarke had his arms around him and was hugging 
again. He wished Clarke would stop that, what was wrong with 
him? What would Ruth think if she saw them? Then they were 
gliding through the air and Clarke's gloves were shooting past his 
ears and he was happy and everything was all right. Clarke was a 
good guy and he might introduce him to Ruth, but why do that? 
Clarke might fight him over her and he didn't feel like fighting and 
he didn't want anybody else with Ruth ... he just wanted to run 
along the white and watch the gloves go by like a train passing 
trees. 

Clarke started dancing away from him and as he got farther 
and farther awaj^, Andy wondered why he was leaving him, and 
then Max's face was in front of him and his mouth was still going 
up and down and he still looked very funny ; his face looked like a 



up Queer Street 141 

couple of things happening at the same time. Andy wanted to find 
Clarke and show him how funny Max looked. Max had a little blue 
bottle in his hand, a deep blue that looked pretty, and he held it 
under Andy's nose and Andy strained his eyes to look down at the 
bottle and suddenly his nose was on fire and he wanted to scream 
and the great white canvas started to rush towards him, shrinking 
till it seemed it would disappear from under him. 

Andy saw his glove go up and push the blue bottle away and the 
fire wasn't so hot and Max made even funnier faces. The canvas be- 
gan to stretch out again and there was that clap of shrill thunder 
and Max was gone and he and Clarke were sailing along once more. 
Clarke's glove was coming up slowly and Andy couldn't see the 
arm trailing after it and he wondered if the glove would nose-dive 
like a kite without its tail. All he could see was the glove and it was 
getting bigger and bigger and it loomed large and black in his face. 
The glove blotted out the white and everything went black and he 
was sailing through black air now. 

It was night and he was running and twisting through the black- 
ness for a long time. It was so dark he couldn't see a thing ahead of 
him and he was afraid. I'm lost ! he thought. There must be a light 
someplace. Not even a star. Where is Ruth? Jesus, did I lose her in 
this blackness? This is a hell of a night, it's so dark. I'm lost and 
nobody can see me in all this darkness. 

There was that sharp burning at his nose again and Max was 
coming to him out of a fog and Max was staring at him and Max's 
fat face was wet with sweat. Max opened his mouth and words came 
out and Andy heard them. "Are you all right? You okay? Come on, 
Andy, you're doing great. For Chrissakes are you okay? You 
hear me?" 

There was blood on Max's white shirt and Andy said: "Sure 
I'm all right. Are you hurt? What round is this?" 

"The last. Keep on . . ." 

"The last!" 

"Listen ..." 

"You mean I gone six rounds?" 

"Yeah, this is the sixth coming up. Keep jabbing him. He had 
you out on your feet, but you boxed him fine. Keep that left going. 
He's tired as hell, but he might try a last-minute finish. The left 
going all the time and your right up. Watch him, he's dangerous 
and . . ." 



142 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

As the bell rang and his mouthpiece was shoved in his mouth, 
Andy tried to say: "The last round?" but he could only mum- 
ble. He felt great and not at all tired. He danced out and Clarke 
came towards him and the ref stepped between them and they 
touched gloves and then Clarke came in, still crouched, swinging 
desperately — his long arms protecting him. Andy was inside the 
swingings clubbing right and drove both hands to the body and was 
surprised to see Clarke's face cut on both cheeks and one eye swollen 
tight. His lips were bloody and Andy jabbed at the bloody lips 
and danced away from that swinging right. He blocked another 
right and the blow didn't have much force behind it and he cracked 
Clarke with a short hard right as they fell into a clinch. When the 
ref parted them, Clarke was bleeding badly from the mouth. Andy 
jabbed him lightly and he remembered a picture he had seen of five 
husky Negroes fighting a battle royal and they were all battered 
and bleeding like Clarke and a laughing crowd of whites was 
watching them. Under the picture they had something about ^'Five 
hucJc niggers battling . . ." He jabbed again and again, lightly, 
keeping Clarke off balance, and he could hear the dull roar of the 
mob. He thought. What am I cutting up this poor slob for? To 
make these damn whites yell? The hell with you bastards, you Hke 
to see two black boys kicking hell out of each other. You love to 
see any man cut up and bleeding — as long as it ain't you. I ain't 
going to paste this guy no more and those crumbs out there know 
what they can do. They got their money's worth. 

He saw an opening for his right and let go, but not hard and 
Clarke took it and clinched. Andy pushed him away and peppered 
him with easy jabs and two stiff rights to the shoulder. He easily 
avoided Clarke's tired clumsy swings, and he knew he could out- 
slug him now. He had a clear shot at Clarke's jaw, but hit him on 
top of the shoulder and wondered if Max knew he was pulling his 
punches. Clarke kept coming in, ready for more, still trying to con- 
nect with his right and Andy thought: What's he coming in for? 
He must know he's licked, that I can knock him kicking if I want. 
He ought to take it easy, coast along, he'll get paid the same. 
And he comes in, swinging that damn right of his like a blackjack. 

For the rest of the round, Andy kept on boxing and hitting 
Clarke with light lefts and rights, and once he hit him flush on the 
mouth and Clarke's mouthpiece flew out covered with blood and 
spit. After that Andy kept his punches to the stomach, pulling 



Up Queer Street 14^ 

them slightly, and making it look as though he were giving Clarke 
a bad body beating. The bell rang and Andy reached over and 
patted Clarke on the back and Clarke glared at him with his one 
good eye, which was kind of glassy, and Andy went to his comer. 
It suddenly came to him that maybe he hadn't won, maybe Clarke 
had beaten him in those rounds he had been out on his feet. As he 
spit his mouthpiece into Max's cupped hands, he asked: "How'd 
I do?" 

"Great ! Andy, you was swell. Even in the last round you boxed 
him like an old timer and didn't take no chances. You was smart 
like a champ ! He had you off your nut and up queer street for four 
rounds, but you was on your toes and boxing like a champ all the 
time. My God, for a minute I thought you was out cold. What a 
clout he caught you with in the second round ! You fell for that old 
sucker trick, but you took it. You showed tonight you can take it. 
Yes sir, you took it like a . . ." 

The announcer held up his hands and then pointed to Andy's 
comer and yelled: "The winnahh . . . Whitman !" He could hear the 
people clapping and cheering and he wondered if they would be 
cheering if he had beaten a white boy. Andy stood up and clasped 
his hands over his head, like he had seen fighters in the movies do, 
and then he ran over to Clarke's corner and shook his hand. Clarke 
said in his best West Indian accent: "You're a good block mon, 
and I'd like to fight you a-gain. You were a very lucky mon this 
evening." 

Andy said : "Sure. Maybe we'll tangle again. Good luck," and he 
thought, Lucky? You dumb monkey man, the next time I'll flatten 
your ears back ! He ran back to his corner and Max put his robe on 
and as they left the ring there was a lot of applause. 



Homecoming at State 

ty HerL Graffis 



Maybe you won't remember it now, but when State opened its 
big stadium back in the terrific twenties, that historic event was 
heralded by the hurhng of practically every fancy adjective in the 
bright lexicon of sports reporting. 

The palace of pigskin got publicity that stirred State's alumni 
to giving down funds like a slot-machine jackpot. And no wonder. 
State's new press coop was a corner of heaven itself compared 
with some of the storm-swept sties at other schools where snow 
whipped into the typewriters late in the season. 

State's new padded cell for the ink-stained wretches had win- 
dows and steam heat like a bridal suite. We lived through our 
labors in the other schools' sties by heating with community jars 
of gin. Naturally all the boys plugged for State. It saved us the 
expense of gin — during the games. 

Of course State wouldn't have had its vast and pretty plant 
if it hadn't had a football team. 

The first year State's stadium received its hundreds of thou- 
sands was the last year of the great Pinky Fowler. Pinky really 
made football at State. He was a back who could do everything 
and had everything, except, perhaps, a brain that was good for 
anything else than football. Ten other kids always were playing 
on the club at the same time Pinky was performing, but I'll give 
you long odds you can't remember the name of any one of those 
other lads on the squad. 

Pinky had figured himself lucky to get a job on a coal truck 
right after he got out of high school, so old William the Wizard 
Everall got him for State at a Woolworth price. I always said 
the late and sainted William was the best judge of football possi- 
bilities who ever lived. 

For books, catch-as-catch-can tuition, and $75 a month during 
the school year William got Pinky, The first year, when Pinky 
plainly was ineligible, he was a deficit, but only then. Even as a 
back on the freshman squad Pinky was such a standout that Ever- 

144 



Homecomine; at State 14*5 



't> 



all began planning his teams and his play around the carrot-topped 
wonder child. 

"If the Lord will only give me the right kind of a blocking 
back to run with Fowler, you fellows can reserve berths to the Rose 
Bowl," the Wizard used to tell us when we sat around trying to 
get some copy straight from the coach's feedbag. Alumni and 
scouts from the coaching staff and Everall himself followed leads 
all over the country trying to locate the missing link. They shang- 
haied or seduced talent by droves and shipped it into the state 
corral. Some of the kids were better than good, but none of them 
was anywhere near Pinky's class. 

Until Old William himself happened to see a kid playing for 
the high school just two blocks from his own home! 

The boy's name was . . . well, I will have to paw through the 
old record books, so wait a second; I can't think of his name off- 
hand, so help me! 

Now I have it ! Smith. John Smith. Funny I couldn't think of it. 

Smith was a push-over for William the Wiz. Just think; the 
kid lived at home, and that meant he didn't have to get the room 
and board money needed by most other kids William brought into 
his fold. It was a plain, neat little house the Smiths had. The boy's 
father worked in a garage. Come to think of it now, the old man 
got pneumonia washing cars and died a couple of years ago; so a 
fellow on the local paper at State's town told me. 

Johnny was crazy to be an engineer. With the few dollars his 
old man was making Johnny didn't have any more chance to go 
to engineering school on a cash basis than I have to write Romeo 
and Juliet, So when foxy William made the deal with Johnny the 
boy went overboard for tuition only. They gave him book money 
later, only when they found that earning book money by holding a 
job during spring practice and at nights during the season was 
interfering with his football. 

Although Pinky Fowler showed circus stuff when he was a 
sophomore and a junior, it was when he was a senior and had Smith 
in there blocking that Pinky became the sensation who still sparkles 
in the record books and memories. 

Even though I had forgotten Johnny's name, I still can re- 
member that 60-yard run of Pinky 's that beat the Prowlers 13 
to 7 in the last minute or so. That was the next to the last game of 
the regular season. It started out, as I recall, like it was going 



1^6 Esquire's Second Spoi-ts Reader 

to be a pass. Pinky saw a chance to leg it, and he did! Three or 
four guys — I forget exactly how many — were hit by Johnny and 
taken out of the play just as though they'd tied with a fast freight 
train. Johnny took so many of the opposition out of the play Pinky 
could have scored walking on his hands. Now it comes back to me 
that Johnny did get swell mention in the papers for that. 

I even did a feature story on Johnny after that game. I 
bumped into him at a hamburger joint on my way to the train late 
that night. The kid said he had a chance to pick up a buck washing 
cars on the night side at the garage where his old man worked. 
There always was pretty heavy automobile traffic into State for 
those games when Pinky was in his prime. Plenty of the folks got 
hitting the gin and scotch from the Capone hielands and were in 
no condition to drive home, 

Johnny was reading an engineering magazine while he was 
gnawing his hamburger. That's how I happened to recognize him. 
State's athletic department had sent out some dope on him being 
the scholastic star of the staff. 

He got to telling me that he had been thinking about giving up 
school and getting himself a job. He'd come home from football 
practice late and all tired out. When a kid like Johnny gets tired 
that's really some tired. The queer part of it about Johnny was that 
in every game he was a 60-minute man who always was as peppery 
on the last play as he was on the kick-off. The kid looked like he 
never wore down. 

He told me that night at the groundhog counter that instead of 
stoking himself with some hot grub when he got home he'd flop 
and sleep. He'd get up later, sneak to the ice box so he wouldn't 
waken his mother, then study late. That all got to worrying his old 
lady and his old man, I guess, because he told about them thinking 
school was too much for him. 

I said to him he'd better see William the Wiz and talk it over 
before he dropped out of school. Another funny thing I think of 
now ! Everall telephoned me the next Monday to thank me for giv- 
ing the boy advice to see him. William told me to go around and 
buy myself the best overcoat I could find and have the bill sent 
to him. The coat was custom-made; one hundred and fifty smack- 
eroos. 

Well, Everall and an alumnus who was head of a big machinery 



Homecoming at State 147 

company got together and Johnny was promised a summer job and 
a job after he finished school, if he'd stick it out. 

The Smith boy said he'd go it. The salary they promised him 
must have looked great to that kid, even if he had to take a beating 
before he started to collect. 

And a beating he did take ! 

State came into the last game of that season T\dth the Rose Bowl 
hanging on the outcome. State hadn't been beaten. With Pinky 
the cinch All- American setting off fireworks at every chalkline State 
had drawn more customers at home and abroad than any other 
team in the country. Newspaper syndicate guys already were hag- 
gling with William about a contract for next year. I got it inside 
that one syndicate offered Everall S5 grand as a guarantee, plus 35 
per cent of the gross on his newspaper stuff and other deals, plus 
Frank Meyers as his ghost, and Frank could ghost a phony story 
to read like the Bible. 

Don't think that State's business office didn't want that Rose 
Bowl gravy, too. You don't build a stadium with box tops or fac- 
similes thereof. 

Brother, was that a finale to end finales! 

The kids on both clubs acted as though they all had been given 
hypos and had batteries in their saddles. From the kick-off to the 
gun the boys went at each other like they'd been issued meat-axes 
along ^ath their sweaters. Two guys died of heart failure in the 
stands, and I guess the only reason the police blue wagons didn't 
come around and haul off the kids for assault and battery was be- 
cause ambulances were blocking the roads to State's ball park. 

Old William thought his club was fast, smart and tough. Pete 
Book with his Cougai*s also had an outfit. Pete had kids who could 
run the hundred in 10 flat wearing diver's shoes. They were so smart 
they had the officials in a fog all through the game. And tough? 
They were rawhide, eleven deep. 

Don't take my word for it. Go back into the files and you'll see 
that the only thing that saved State from being flattened by a 
high-speed steam roller was two fumbles by the Cougars inside 
State's 10-yard line before the game was 10 minutes old. Those 
fumbles weren't sloppy ball handling, either. Swede Loberg was 
one of State's backfield coaches then. He told me on the way out 
to the Rose Bowl that it was Johnny Smith who'd muscle that 
ball out of their clutch. 



148 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Pinky was slow in rising to shine. He'd start on a run with 
Johnny dumping the enemy in the line of march, but a Cougar kid 
would nail Pinky from Pink's southern exposure. Those Cougars 
were so fast they could give lightning 10 yards head start and beat 
it to the goal line. 

You know how kids are when they get properly steamed up by 
coaches who are famous psychologists of the sports sections. Those 
masters of the kid mind don't pull that Die for Dear Old Sub- 
normal line. They drop cold and sly references to the other school 
talking about their team's mothers in the other school's zoology 
lectures, and such stuff. Old William was a genius at that. If he 
had a superior in this technique his master was Pete Book. 

That game was a stand-off the first half. Johnny Smith was the 
only one who played the full thirty minutes. We could hear the 
smack of colliding kids and the grunts clear up in the press coop. 
That was one of the few games where I've ever heard a kid moan 
when he was carried off the field. 

Up to about the middle of the last quarter, it was about the 
same story play after play, with State on the defensive. Somebody 
else "and Smith" brought down the Cougar ball carriers. On the 
offense Johnny kept hammering trying to knock open a hole for 
Pinky. 

The Swede gave me the close-up later. He said that William 
whispered to him he ought to take the Smith kid out for a rest, but 
Johnny was doing more than State's line to batter the Cougars' 
right side to a pulp. "Besides, what three kids can I put in his 
place?" the Wizard remarked. The Swede said he never would forget 
that because it showed old William never got so excited he failed to 
see the humorous side of a situation. Old William was a great guy 
as a banquet speaker, too. Lots of laughs in him. 

The break finally came. Pinky went outside his right tackle for 
about 25 yards. His end and his tackle were outcharged by Cougar 
kids, but Johnny was there blocking like an explosion in a dynamite 
factory. When the ball was downed, so was Johnny. Johnny stayed 
down. 

As I got the story. Monkey-face Maginnis, State's trainer said 
to Coach William, "that Smith kid's hurt and hurt bad. Pie ought 
to lie there as long as we can let him, and be taken out easy on the 
stretcher." 

"Lie there, hell," said Everall. "With the other kids so punch- 



Homecoming at State 149 

drunk they can hardly stand. Yank Smith out quick before the 
other kids get their breath. We'll send Fowler at that right side 
again before they know what's hitting them." Old William, they 
say, was the best coach who ever lived when it came to recognizing 
a break and making the most of it. 

So Monkey-face and another trainer went out and yanked 
Johnny to his feet and dragged him to the sidelines. They laid 
him on a blanket in front of the bench. "Lug him out, you dopes," 
the Wizard muttered. "Seeing him here might work the wrong way 
on our kids and for the others." 

Smith was bundled away, on the double, and none too gentle, 
although the trainers tried to go easy. 

The Cougars' captain missed his signal from the bench, didn't 
think to call time out, or guessed wrong on how strong his team 
was. Old William's hunch about the Cougars' wilting defense was 
right. 

On the next play Pinky again went outside right tackle, and 
for 30 yards and a touchdown. 

The final w^as 6 to ; State winning. 

State went to the Rose Bowl. Johnny didn't. He went stale, or 
something, or lost interest. Couldn't remember signals and got in 
everybody's way. The story went around that he'd had a kind 
of breakdown from studying too much. Myself, I think that yarn 
was an alibi promoted by the athletic publicity department at 
State to explain its club's sorry showing in the Bowl. State looked 
like it picked up its squad from its sorority houses. Its kids sure 
didn't show much as football players in that rout. Pinky Fowler 
was a floperoo. The writers said it was the heat or change of water, 
or something. 

Johnny Smith dropped out of school. No explanations came 
from anybody, and you know how it is with most football players 
unless they're flashy ball carriers or passers. A year or so after 
they're out of action and the papers only the super-wacky of the 
gridiron-goofey public remember the players. 

I was down to State last week covering the Homecoming game. 

It was gay and beautiful on the campus. The night before the 
game I wandered around looking at the screwy decorations on the 
fraternity and sorority houses and hearing the kids' merry noises 
blast out of the open doors. Walking around in the moonhght got 
me to w^ondering why any old grad ever came back to be re- 



150 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

minded of what a swell time he had when he was a kid. Those 
days are over for him. Why's he want to think himself into an 
emotional hangover? 

I wandered under the big trees that sieved moonlight onto the 
sidewalks and began getting sentimental thinking about what those 
kids were going to get out of the big show coming up when they 
got out of school. All I'd scored since I got out of school was four 
callouses; two on fingers from pecking at a typewriter and two 
behind from sitting in front of a grinder. 

Just doping along, I wound up back in the same hamburger 
stand where I'd talked to Johnny Smith. I sat there loading up a 
couple and hoping the boys hadn't started the poker game in the 
room where Silly Slattery of the Sun and I were cell-mates. I wanted 
to catch myself some sleep but I knew I wouldn't because I'd got to 
thinking about that serious kid who was the best blocking back I 
ever saw. I couldn't think of the kid's name. Always bothers me 
when I can't remember a guy's name. 

What if I'd see that kid at Homecoming? He'd be a man now. 
Maybe starting to get saggy and a lot of navel development like 
I have. Probably worrying about his work and wondering why he 
hadn't majored in milk-wagon driving instead of engineering. Folks 
always want milk but who wants nice fresh engineering delivered 
to the b^ck door every morning? 

The kid made a mistake. He should have stayed in school and 
graduated. Another couple of years like he'd played as a sopho- 
more, and he might have been ballyhooed so he'd be remembered. 

But should I be second-guessing other people's lives? 

Those Homecoming games at State always get me. One of their 
stunts between halves is to have a squad of the State's R.O.T.C. 
students gather around a big bronze tablet where there are the 
names of State's kids who were knocked off in the First World 
War. A salute is fired. The buglers blow Taps. 

As the first note of Taps hits the air everybody uncovers and 
stands. 

The telegraph operators in the press box silence their keys and 
sounders. The stillness is so complete and solemn a guy is scared 
that the noise of his heart beating will be blasphemy. 

Outside the rim of State's stadium you can see, from the height 
of the press coop, fields of corn stacked like an Indian camp. Cars 



Homecoming at State 151 

of football specials are stretched out on a railroad siding. Hundreds 
of automobiles are parked together. 

Taps is mournful enough anyway, but out in the country with 
55,000 people listening in dead silence and thinking about young- 
sters who left the beauty of this prairie forever, each note of Taps 
cuts into your heart. 

Some woman, about half-way down in the rows between the 
press coop and the field, choked a sob. It sounded like a shell had 
been fired to shatter the stillness. 

And then the darndest thing you ever heard; just as Taps was 
a few bars from the finish. 

A hot-dog hustler, a wizened, bent little guy — slug-nutty if I 
ever saw a man that way — yelled out "Getcherself a hot and deli- 
cious frankfurter, folks. Who wants the next one?" 

It sounded louder than any scoring cheer that ever shook State's 
stadium. 

I thought the crowd was going to tear the guy apart. As Taps 
died away they bawled him out and sneered at him, and acted like 
he'd just broken out with smallpox. 

The little guy looked scared. He didn't know he'd done anything 
out of line. All he knew was to peddle hot dogs. A fat man in an 
animal coat barked to the fellow sitting alongside him, a few rows 
below the press stand, "I'm going to have anybody w^ho's that stupid 
canned, if it's the last thing I do." 

The telegraph instruments started clicking like a boiler fac- 
tory again. My operator handed me a message from the office ask- 
ing to rush a new lead. But I couldn't stop looking at the hot- 
dog hustler slouching down the aisle, whipped and hunted looking. 

I knew I'd seen that guy before. Maybe one of those bums that 
hang around fight gyms panhandling for coffee and sinkers. 

He had that frail and foolish look of a punk who'd been punched 
around. I couldn't imagine this one being on the loose, though, 
because any case as sock-silly as this guy gets a benefit in the fight 
racket, and the boys send him away for treatment. 

The shriveled little guy turned around when he got down to the 
slot to the concrete runway that led beneath the stands. He un- 
strapped his hot-dog basket. 

He looked up at the Homecoming crowd. On his face was a puz- 
zled and painful imitation of a defiant grin. He looked almost like 
he was challenging the crowd to step do^vn and fight him. 



152 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Then it hit me. 

Sure I'd seen the pathetic slap-doped specimen before. And 
from where I sat! 

It was Johnny Smith, at Homecoming. 



The J^ighttf'Yard Run 

Ly Irwin SLaw 



The pass was high and wide and he jumped for it, feeling it slap 
flatly against his hands, as he shook his hips to throw off the half- 
back who was diving at him. The center floated by, his hands des- 
perately brushing Darling's knee as Darling picked his feet up 
high and delicately ran over a blocker and an opposing linesman 
in a jumble on the ground near the scrimmage line. He had ten 
yards in the clear and picked up speed, breathing easily, feeling his 
thigh pads rising and falling against his legs, listening to the sound 
of cleats behind him, pulling away from them, watching the other 
backs heading him off toward the sideline, the whole picture, the 
men closing in on him, the blockers fighting for position, the ground 
he had to cross, all suddenly clear in his head, for the first time 
in his life not a meaningless confusion of men, sounds, speed. He 
smiled a little to himself as he ran, holding the ball lightly in front 
of him with his two hands, his knees pumping high, his hips twist- 
ing in the almost-girlish run of a back in a broken field. The first 
halfback came at him and he fed him his leg, then swung at the 
last moment, took the shock of the man's shoulder without break- 
ing stride, ran right through him, his cleats biting securely into 
the turf. There was only the safety man now, coming warily at 
him, his arms crooked, hands spread. Darling tucked the ball in, 
spurted at him, driving hard, hurling himself along, his legs pound- 
ing, knees high, all two hundred pounds bunched into controlled 
attack. He was sure he was going to get past the safety man. With- 
out thought, his arms and legs working beautifully together, he 
headed right for the safety man, stiff-armed him, feeling blood 
spurt instantaneously from the man's nose onto his hand, seeing his 
face go awry, head turned, mouth pulled to one side. He pivoted 
away, keeping the arm locked, dropping the safety man as he ran 
easily toward the goal line, with the drumming of cleats diminish- 
ing behind him. 

How long Rgo? It was autumn then and the ground was getting 
hard because the nights were cold and leaves from the maples 
around the stadium blew across the practice fields in gusts of wind 

153 



154 Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

and the girls were beginning to put polo coats over their sweaters 
when they came to watch practice in the afternoons . . . Fifteen 
years. Darling walked slowly over the same ground in the spring 
twilight, in his neat shoes, a man of thirty-five dressed in a double- 
breasted suit, ten pounds heavier in the fifteen years, but not fat, 
with the years between 19S5 and 194^0 showing in his face. 

The coach was smiling quietly to himself and the assistant 
coaches were looking at each other with pleasure the way they 
always did when one of the second stringers suddenly did some- 
thing fine, bringing credit to them, making their $2,000 a year a 
tiny bit more secure. 

Darling trotted back, smiling, breathing deeply but easily, feel- 
ing wonderful, not tired, though this was the tail end of practice 
and he'd run eighty yards. The sweat poured off his face and 
soaked his jersey and he liked the feeling, the warm moistness 
lubricating his skin like oil. Off in a corner of the field some play- 
ers were punting and the smack of leather against the ball came 
pleasantly through the afternoon air. The freshmen were running 
signals on the next field and the quarterback's sharp voice, the 
pound of the eleven pairs of cleats, the "Dig, now, dig!''' of the 
coaches, the laughter of the players all somehow made him feel 
happy as he trotted back to midfield, listening to the applause 
and shouts of the students along the sidelines, knowing that after 
that run the coach would have to start him Saturday against 
Illinois. 

Fifteen years, Darling thought, remembering the shower after 
the workout, the hot water steaming off his skin and the deep soap- 
suds and all the 3=^oung voices singing with the v/ater streaming 
down and towels going and managers running in and out and the 
sharp sweet smell of oil of wintergreen and everybody clapping 
him on the back as he dressed and Packard, the captain, who took 
being captain very seriously, coming over to him and shaking 
his hand and saying, "Darling, you're going to go places in the 
next two years." 

The assistant manager fussed over him, wiping a cut on his 
leg with alcohol and iodine, the little sting making him realize 
suddenly how fresh and whole and solid his body felt. The man- 
ager slapped a piece of adhesive tape over the cut and Darling 
noticed the sharp clean white of the tape against the ruddiness of 
the skin, fresh from the shower. 



The Eighty-Yard Run 155 

He dressed slowly, the softness of his shirt and the soft warmth 
of his wool socks and his flannel trousers a reward against his skin 
after the harsh pressure of the shoulder harness and thigh and 
hip pads. He drank three glasses of cold water, the liquid reach- 
ing down coldly inside of him, soothing the harsh dry places in his 
throat and belly left by the sweat and running and shouting of 
practice. 

Fifteen years. 

The sun had gone down and the sky was green behind the 
stadium and he laughed quietly to himself as he looked at the 
stadium, rearing above the trees, and knew that on Saturday when 
the 70,000 voices roared as the team came running out onto the 
field, part of that enormous salute would be for him. He walked 
slowly, listening to the gravel crunch satisfactorily under his shoes 
in the still twilight, feeling his clothes swing lightly against his 
skin, breathing the thin evening air, feeling the wind move softly 
in his damp hair, wonderfully cool behind his ears and at the 
nape of his neck. 

Louise was waiting for him at the road, in her car. The top was 
down and he noticed all over again, as he always did when he saw 
her, how pretty she was, the rough blonde hair and the large, 
inquiring eyes and the bright mouth, smiling now. 

She threw the door open. "Were you good today.?" she asked. 

"Pretty good," he said. He climbed in, sank luxuriously into 
the soft leather, stretched his legs far out. He smiled, thinking 
of the eighty yards. "Pretty damn good." 

She looked at him seriously for a moment, then scrambled 
around, like a little girl, kneeling on the seat next to him, grabbed 
him, her hands along his ears, and kissed him as he sprawled, head 
back, on the seat cushion. She let go of him, but kept her head 
close to his, over his. Darling reached up slowly and rubbed the 
back of his hand against her cheek, lit softly by a street-lamp a 
hundred feet away. They looked at each other, smiling. 

Louise drove down to the lake and they sat there silently, watch- 
ing the moon rise behind the hills on the other side. Finally he 
reached over, pulled her gently to him, kissed her. Her lips grew 
soft, her body sank into his, tears formed slowly in her eyes. He 
knew, for the first time, that he could do whatever he wanted with 
her. 



156 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Tonight," he said. "I'll call for you at seven-thirty. Can you 
get out?" 

She looked at him. She was smiling, but the tears were still 
full in her eyes. "All right," she said. "I'll get out. How about 
you? Won't the coach raise hell?" 

Darling grinned. "I got the coach in the palm of my hand/' 
he said. "Can 3'OU wait till seven-thirty?" 

She grinned back at him. "No," she said. 

They kissed and she started the car and they went back to town 
for dinner. He sang on the way home. 

* * *• 

Christian Darling, thirty-five years old, sat on the frail spring 
grass, greener now than it ever would be again on the practice 
field, looked thoughtfully up at the stadium, a deserted ruin in the 
twilight. He had started on the first team that Saturday and every 
Saturday after that for the next two years, but it had never been 
as satisfactory as it should have been. He never had broken away, 
the longest run he'd ever made was thirty-five yards, and that in 
a game that was already won, and then that kid had come up from 
the third team, Diederich, a blank-faced German kid from Wiscon- 
sin, who ran like a bull, ripping lines to pieces Saturday after Sat- 
urday, plowing through, never getting hurt, never changing his 
expression, scoring more points, gaining more ground than all the 
rest of the team put together, making everybody's All-American, 
carrying the ball three times out of four, keeping everybody else 
out of the headlines. Darling was a good blocker and he spent his 
Saturday afternoons working on the big Swedes and Polacks who 
played tackle and end for Michigan, Illinois, Purdue, hurling into 
huge pile-ups, bobbing his head wildly to elude the great raw hands 
swinging like meat-cleavers at him as he went charging in to open 
up holes for Diederich coming through like a locomotive behind 
him. Still, it wasn't so bad. Everybody liked him and he did his 
job and he was pointed out on the campus and boys always felt 
important when they introduced their girls to him at their proms, 
and Louise loved him and watched him faithfully in the games, even 
in the mud, when your own mother wouldn't know you, and drove 
him around in her car keeping the top down because she was proud 
of him and wanted to show everybody that she was Christian Dar- 
ling's girl. She bought him crazy presents because her father was 



The Eighty-Yard Run 157 

rich, watches, pipes, humidors, an icebox for beer for liis room, 
curtains, wallets, a fifty-dollar dictionary. 

"You'll spend every cent your old man owns," Darling pro- 
tested once when she showed up at his rooms with seven different 
packages in her arms and tossed them onto the couch. 

"Kiss me," Louise said, "and shut up." 

"Do you want to break j^our poor old man?" 

"I don't mind. I want to buy you presents." 

"Why.?" 

"It makes me feel good. Kiss me. I don't know why. Did you 
know that you're an important figure.?" 

"Yes," Darling said gravely. 

"When I was waiting for you at the library yesterday two girls 
saw you coming and one of them said to the other, 'That's Chris- 
tian Darling. He's an important figure.' " 

"You're a liar." 

"I'm in love with an important figure." 

"Still, why the hell did you have to give me a forty-pound 
dictionary?" 

"I wanted to make sure," Louise said, "that you had a token 
of my esteem. I want to smother you in tokens of my esteem." 

Fifteen years ago. 

They'd married when they got out of college. There'd been other 
women for him, but all casual and secret, more for curiosity's sake, 
and vanity, women who'd thrown themselves at him and flattered 
him, a pretty mother at a summer camp for boys, an old girl from 
his home town who'd suddenly blossomed into a coquette, a friend 
of Louise's who had dogged him grimly for six months and had 
taken advantage of the two weeks when Louise went home when her 
mother died. Perhaps Louise had known, but she'd kept quiet, 
lo\^ng him completely, filling his rooms with presents, religiously 
watching him battling with the big Swedes and Polacks on the line 
of scrimmage on Saturday afternoons, making plans for marr3ring 
him and living with him in New York and going with him there to 
the nightclubs, the theatres, the good restaurants, being proud of 
him in advance, tall, white-teethed, smiling, large, yet moving 
lightly, with an athlete's grace, dressed in evening clothes, approv- 
ingly eyed by magnificently dressed and famous women in theatre 
lobbies, with Louise adoringly at his side. 

Her father, who manufactured inks, set up a New York office for 



158 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Darling to manage and presented him with three hundred accounts 
and they Hved on Beekman Place with a view of the river with fif- 
teen thousand dollars a year between them, because everybody 
was buying everything in those d^js, including ink. They saw all 
the shows and went to all the speakeasies and spent their fifteen 
thousand dollars a year and in the afternoons Louise went to the art 
galleries and the matinees of the more serious plays that Darling 
didn't like to sit through and Darling slept with a girl who 
danced in the chorus of Rosalie and with the wife of a man who 
owned three copper mines. Darling played squash three times a week 
and remained as solid as a stone barn and Louise never took her 
eyes off him when they were in the same room together, watching him 
with a secret, miser's smile, with a trick of coming over to him in 
the middle of a crowded room and saying gravely, in a low voice, 
"You're the handsomest man I've ever seen in my whole life. Want 
a drink?" 

Nineteen twenty-nine came to Darling and to his wife and father- 
in-law, the maker of inks, just as it came to everyone else. The 
father-in-law waited until 1933 and then blew his brains out and 
when Darling went to Chicago to see what the books of the firm 
looked like he found out all that was left were debts and three or 
four gallons of unbought ink. 

"Please, Christian," Louise said, sitting in their neat Beekman 
Place apartment, with a view of the river and prints of paintings by 
Dufy and Braque and Picasso on the wall, "please, why do you want 
to start drinking at two o'clock in the afternoon?" 

"I have nothing else to do," Darling said, putting down his 
glass, emptied of its fourth drink. "Please pass the whiskey." 

Louise filled his glass. "Come take a walk with me," she said. 
"We'll walk along the river.^' 

"I don't want to walk along the river," Darling said, squinting 
intensely at the prints of paintings by Dufy, Braque and Picasso. 

"We'll walk along Fifth Avenue." 

"I don't want to walk along Fifth Avenue." 

"Maybe," Louise said gently, "you'd like to come with me to 
some art galleries. There's an exhibition by a man named Klee — " 

"I don't want to go to any art galleries. I want to sit here and 
drink Scotch whiskey," Darling said. "Who the hell hung those 
goddam pictures up on the wall?" 

"I did," Louise said. 



The Eighty- Yard Run 159 

^^I hate them." 

"I'll take them down," Louise said. 

"Leave them there. It gives me something to do in the afternoon. 
I can hate them." Darling took a long swallow. "Is that the way- 
people paint these days?" 

"Yes, Christian. Please don't drink any more." 

"Do you like painting like that?" 

"Yes, dear." 

"Really?" 

"Really." 

Darling looked carefully at the prints once more. "Little Louise 
Tucker. The middle-western beauty. I like pictures with horses 
in them. Why should you like pictures like that?" 

"I just happen to have gone to a lot of galleries in the last few 
years . . ." 

"Is that what you do in the afternoon?" 

"That's what I do in the afternoon," Louise said. 

"I drink in the afternoon." 

Louise kissed him lightly on the top of his head as he sat there 
squinting at the pictures on the wall, the glass of whiskey held 
firmly in his hand. She put on her coat and went out without saying 
another word. When she came back in the early evening, she had 
a job on a woman's fashion magazine. 

They moved downtown and Louise went out to work every 
morning and Darling sat home and drank and Louise paid the 
bills as they came up. She made believe she was going to quit work 
as soon as Darling found a job, even though she was taking over 
more responsibility day by day at the magazine, interviewing au- 
thors, picking painters for the illustrations and covers, getting 
actresses to pose for pictures, going out for drinks with the right 
people, making a thousand new friends whom she loyally intro- 
duced to Darling. - 

"I don't like your hat," Darling said, once, when she came in in 
the evening and kissed him, her breath rich with Martinis. 

"What's the matter with my hat. Baby?" she asked, running 
her fingers through his hair. "Everybody says it's very smart." 

"It's too damned smart," he said. "It's not for you. It's for a 
rich, sophisticated woman of thirty-five with admirers." 

Louise laughed. "I'm practicing to be a rich, sophisticated 
woman of thirty-five with admirers," she said. He stared soberly 



160 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

at her. "Now, don't look so grim, Baby. It's still the same simple 
little wife under the hat." She took the hat off, threw it into a 
corner, sat on his lap. "See? Homebody Number One." 

"Your breath could run a train," Darling said, not wanting to 
be mean, but talking out of boredom, and sudden shock at seeing his 
wife curiously a stranger in a new hat, with a new expression in her 
eyes under the little brim, secret, confident, knowing. 

Louise tucked her head under his chin so he couldn't smell her 
breath. "I had to take an author out for cocktails," she said. "He's 
a boy from the Ozark mountains and he drinks like a fish. He's a 
Communist." 

"What the hell is a Communist from the Ozarks doing writing 
for a woman's fashion magazine?" 

Louise chuckled. "The magazine business is getting all mixed 
up these days. The publishers want to have a foot in every camp. 
And anyr^^ay, you can't find an author under seventy these days who 
isn't a Communist." 

"I don't think I like you to associate with all those people, 
Louise," Darling said. "Drinking with them." 

"He's a very nice, gentle boy," Louise said. "He reads Ernest 
Dobson." 

"Who's Ernest Dobson?" 

Louise patted his arm, stood up, fixed her hair. "He's an Eng- 
lish poet." 

Darling felt that somehow he had disappointed her. "Am I 
supposed to know who Ernest Dobson is?" 

"No, dear. I'd better go in and take a bath." 

After she had gone. Darling went over to the corner where the 
hat was lying and picked it up. It was nothing, a scrap of straw, a 
red flower, a veil, meaningless on his big hand, but on his wife's 
liead a signal of something . . . big city, smart and knowing women 
drinking and dining with men other than their husbands, conver- 
sation about things a normal man wouldn't know much about, 
Frenchmen who painted as though they used their elbows instead of 
brushes, composers who wrote w^hole symphonies without a single 
melody in them, writers who knew all about politics and women who 
knew all about writers, the movement of the proletariat, Marx, 
somehow mixed up with five-dollar dinners and the best looking 
women in America and fairies who made them laugh and half-sen- 
tences immediately understood and secretly hilarious and wives who 



The Eighty-Yard Run 161 

called their husbands, "Baby." He put the hat down, a scrap of 
straw and a red flower, and a little veil. He drank some whiskey 
straight and went into the bathroom where his wife was lying deep 
in her bath, singing to herself and smiling from time to time like a 
little girl, paddling the water gently with her hands, sending up 
a slight spicy fragrance from the bath-salts she used. 

He stood over her, looking down at her. She smiled up at him, 
her eyes half closed, her body pink and shimmering in the warm, 
scented water. All over again, with all the old suddenness, he was 
hit deep inside him with the knowledge of how beautiful she was, 
how much he needed her. 

"I came in here," he said, "to tell you I wish you wouldn't call 
me ^Baby.' " 

She looked up at him from the bath, her eyes quickly full of sor- 
row, half-understanding what he meant. He knelt and put his arms 
around her, his sleeves plunged heedlessly in the water, his shirt 
and jacket soaking wet as he clutched her wordlessly, holding 
her crazily tight, crushing her breath from her, kissing her des- 
perately, searchingly, regretfully. 

* <if * 

He got jobs after that, selling real estate and automobiles, but 
somehow, although he had a desk with his name on a wooden wedge 
on it, and he went to the ofiice religiously at nine each morning, he 
never managed to sell anything and he never made any money. 

Louise was made assistant editor and the house was always full 
of strange men and women who talked fast and got angry on ab- 
stract subjects like mural paintings, novelists, labor unions. Negro 
short-story writers drank Louise's liquor, and a lot of Jews, and big 
solemn men with scarred faces and knotted hands who talked slowly 
but clearly about picket lines and battles with guns and leadpipe 
at mine-shaft-heads and in front of factory gates. And Louise moved 
among them all, confidently, knowing what they were talking about, 
with opinions that they listened to and argued about just as though 
she were a man. She knew everybody, condescended to no one, de- 
voured books that Darling had never heard of, walked along the 
streets of the city, excited, at home, soaking in all the million tides 
of New York without fear, with constant wonder. 

Her friends liked Darling and sometimes he found a man who 
wanted to get off in the comer and talk about the new boy who 
played fullback for Princeton, and the decline of the double wing- 



16^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

back, or even the state of the stock market, but for the most part he 
sat on the edge of things, solid and quiet in the high storm of words. 
"The dialectics of the situation . . . and the theatre has been given 
over to expert jugglers . . . Picasso? What man has a right to paint 
old bones and collect ten thousand dollars for them? ... I stand 
firmly behind Trotsky . . . Poe was the last American critic. When 
he died they put lilies on the grave of American criticism. I don't 
say this because they panned my last book, but . . ." 

Once in a while he caught Louise looking soberly and consider- 
ingly at him through the cigarette smoke and the noise and he 
avoided her eyes and found an excuse to get up and go into the 

kitchen for more ice or to open another bottle. 

* * * 

'^Come on," Cathal Flaherty was saying, standing at the door 
with a girl, "you've got to come down and see this. It's down on 
Fourteenth Street, in the old Civic Repertory, and you can only see 
it on Sunday nights and I guarantee you'll come out of the theatre 
singing." Flaherty was a big young Irishman with a broken nose 
who was the lawyer for a longshoreman's union, and he had been 
hanging around the house for six months on and off, roaring and 
shutting everybody else up when he got in an argument. "It's a 
new play, Waiting for Left 2/, it's about taxi-drivers." 

"Odets," the girl with Flaherty said. "It's by a guy named 
Odets." 

"I never heard of him," Darling said. 

"He's a new one," the girl said. 

"It's like watching a bombardment," Flaherty said. "I saw it 
last Sunday night. You've got to see it." 

"Come on. Baby," Louise said to Darling, excitement in her eyes 
already. "We've been sitting in the Sunday Times all day, this'li 
be a great change." 

"I see enough taxi-drivers every day," Darling said, not because 
he meant that, but because he didn't like to be around Flaherty, 
who said things that made Louise laugh a lot and whose judgment 
she accepted on almost every subject. "Let's go to the movies." 

"You've never seen anything like this before," Flaherty said. 
"He wrote this play with a baseball bat." 

"Come on," Louise coaxed, "I bet it's wonderful." 

"He has long hair," the girl with Flaherty said. "Odets. I met 



The Eighty- Yard Run 163 

him at a party. He's an actor. He didn't say a goddam thing all 
night." 

"I don't feel like going down to Fourteenth Street," Darling 
said, wishing Flaherty and his girl would get out. "It's gloomy." 

"Oh, hell !" Louise said loudly. She looked coolly at Darhng, as 
though she'd just been introduced to him and was making up her 
mind about him, and not very favorably. He saw her looking at 
him, knowing there was something new and dangerous in her face 
and he wanted to say something, but Flaherty was there and his 
damned girl, and anyway^ he didn't know what to say. 

"I'm going," Louise said, getting her coat. "I don't think Four- 
teenth Street is gloomy." 

"I'm telling you," Flaherty v/as saying, helping her on with her 
coat, "it's the Battle of Gettysburg, in Brooklynese." 

"Nobody could get a word out of him," Flaherty's girl was 
saying as they went through the door. "He just sat there all night." 

The door closed. Louise hadn't said good-night to him. Darling 
walked around the room four times, then sijrawled out on the sofa, 
on top of the Sunday Times, He lay there for five minutes look- 
ing at the ceiling, thinking of Flaherty walking down the street 
talking in that booming voice, between the girls, holding their arms. 

Louise had looked wonderful. She'd washed her hair in the af- 
ternoon and it had been very soft and light and clung close to her 
head as she stood there angrily putting her coat on. Louise was 
getting prettier every year, partly because she knew by now how 
pretty she was, and made the most of it. 

"Nuts," Darling said, standing up. "Oh, nuts." 

He put on his coat and went down to the nearest bar and had 

five drinks off by himself in a corner before his money ran out. 

^ ¥^ ^ 

The years since then had been foggy and downhill. Louise had 
been nice to him, and in a way, loving and kind, and they'd fought 
only once, when he said he was going to vote for Landon. ("Oh, 
Christ," she'd said, "doesn't anything happen inside your head?" 
Don't you read the papers .? The penniless Republican!") She'd 
been sorry later and apologized for hurting him, but apologized as 
she might to a child. He'd tried hard, had gone grimly to the art 
galleries, the concert halls, the bookshops, trying to gain on the 
trail of his wife, but it was no use. He was bored, and none of what 
he saw or heard or dutifully read made much sense to him and 



164} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

finally he gave it up. He had thought, many nights as he ate 
dinner alone, knowing that Louise would come home late and drop 
silently into bed without explanation, of getting a divorce, but he 
knew the loneliness, the hopelessness, of not seeing her again would 
be too much to take. So he was good, completely devoted, ready 
at all times to go anyplace with her, do anything she wanted. He 
even got a small job, in a broker's office and paid his own way, 
bought his own liquor. 

Then he'd been offered the job of going from college to college 
as a tailor's representative. "We want a man," Mr. Rosenberg had 
said, "who as soon as you look at him, you say 'There's a university 
man.'" Rosenberg had looked approvingly at Darling's broad 
shoulders and well-kept waist, at his carefully brushed hair and his 
honest, w^rinkle-less face. "Frankly, Mr. Darling, I am willing to 
make you a proposition. I have inquired about you, you are favor- 
ably known on your old campus, I understand you were in the 
backfield with Alfred Diederich." 

Darling nodded. "Whatever happened to him?" 

"He is walking around in a cast for seven years now. An iron 
brace. He played professional football and they broke his neck 
for him." 

Darling smiled. That, at least, had turned out well. 

"Our suits are an easy product to sell, Mr. Darling," Rosen- 
berg said. "We have a handsome, custom-made garment. Wliat has 
Brooks Brothers got that we haven't got.^ A name. No more." 

"I can make fifty, sixty dollars a w^eek," Darling said to Louise 
that night. "And expenses. I can save some money and then come 
back to New York and really get started here." 

"Yes, Baby," Louise said. 

"As it is," Darling said carefully, "I can make it back here once 
a month, and holidays and the summer. We can see each other 
often." 

"Yes, Baby." He looked at her face, lovelier now at thirty-five 
than it had ever been before, but fogged over now as it had been 
for ^ve years with a kind of patient, kindly, remote boredom. 

"What do you say.?" he asked, "Should I take it?" Deep within 
him he hoped fiercely, longingly, for her to say, "No, Baby, you 
stay right here," but she said, as he knew she'd say, "I think you'd 
better take it." 

He nodded. He had to get up and stand with his back to her, 



The Eighty-Yard Run 165 

looking out the window, because there were things plain on his face 
that she had never seen in the fifteen years she'd known him. 
"Fifty dollars is a lot of money," he said. "I never thought I'd ever 

see fifty dollars again." He laughed. Louise laughed, too. 

* * * 

Christian Darling sat on the frail green grass of the practice 
field. The shadow of the stadium had reached out and covered him. 
In the distance the hghts of the university shone a little mistily in 
the light haze of evening. Fifteen years. Flaherty even now was 
calling for his wife, buying her a drink, filling whatever bar they 
were in with that voice of his and that easy laugh. Darling half- 
closed his eyes, almost saw the boy fifteen years ago reach for the 
pass, slip the halfback, go skittering lightly down the field, his 
knees high and fast and graceful, smiling to himself because he knew 
he was going to get past the safety man. That was the high point, 
Darling thought, fifteen years ago, on an autumn afternoon, twenty 
years old and far from death, with the air coming easily into his 
lungs, and a deep feeling inside him that he could do anything, 
knock over anybody, outrun whatever had to be outrun. And the 
shower after and the three glasses of water and the cool night air on 
his damp head and Louise sitting hatless in the open car with a 
smile and the first kiss she ever really meant. The high point, 
an eighty-yard run in the practice, and a girl's kiss and everything 
after that a decline. Darling laughed. He had practiced the wrong 
thing, perhaps. He hadn't practiced for 1929 and New York City 
and a girl who would turn into a woman. Somewhere, he thought, 
there must have been a point where she moved up to me, was even 
with me for a moment, when I could have held her hand, if I'd 
known, held tight, gone with her. Well, he'd never known. Here 
he was on a playing field that was fifteen years away and his wife 
was in another city having dinner with another and better man, 
speaking with him a different, new language, a language nobody 
had ever taught him. 

Darling stood up, smiled a little, because if he didn't smile he 
knew the tears would come. He looked around him. This was the 
spot. O'Connor's pass had come sliding out just to here . . . the 
high point. Darling put up his hands, felt all over again the flat 
slap of the ball. He shook his hips to throw off the halfback, cut 
back inside the center, picked his knees high as he ran gracefully 
over two men jumbled on the ground at the line of scrimmage, 



166 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ran easily, gaining speed, for ten yards, holding the ball lightly 
in his two hands, swung away from the halfback diving at him, 
ran, swinging his hips in the ahuost girlish manner of a back in 
a broken field, tore into the safety man, his shoes drumming heav- 
ily on the turf 5 stiif -armed, elbow locked, pivoted, raced lightly and 
exultantly for the goal line. 

It was only after he had sped over the goal-line and slowed to a 
trot that he saw the boy and girl sitting together on the turf, look- 
ing at him wonderingly. 

He stopped short, dropping his arms. "I . . ." he said, gasping 
a little though his condition was fine and the run hadn't winded him, 
"I . . . Once I played here." 

The boy and the girl said nothing. Darling laughed embarrass- 
edly, looked hard at them sitting there, close to each other, shrugged, 
turned and went toward his hotel, the sweat breaking out on his 
face and running down into his collar. 



The OU Battler 

by Harry Bolton 



The Western Union kid comes to the door. He has twelve tele- 
grams. The Postal Telegraph is on his heels. He has twelve tele- 
grams. They are from fighters in and around Chicago, nine hundred 
miles away. They all read about the same. "Hold off the old bat- 
tler's funeral one day so I can attend." 

So two days after the old battler, fighter of fighters who fought 
them all, died in a bughouse from an operation to mend his beaten 
old skull-piece, guys in the Gilt-Edge Club, a ninety-five per cent 
fighter's club, the old battler's club, were waiting. 

Pinky Ferris, a skinny bantamweight who has a six-inch reach, 
longer than he has any business having, links his middle fingers, 
holds out his arms, then sticks his right elbow through the crook 
of his left arm and pulls the circle around his neck. Pinky always 
does that when he feels bad. He did it when his father and mother 
died. He did it when his brother was killed. He did it when his sister 
went haywire. He did it when his wife went haywire. He is doing 
it now. 

The door opens and Father Dennis of St. Michael's Church and 
the long bearded Hebrew from the synagogue come in. They chew 
the fat with the guys for a few minutes and as they go out, leave 
$20 apiece for the Gilt-Edge to do as it feels like. 

Gold-Tooth Marty answers a knock and comes back. 

"Hey, hey," sa^^s the Gold-Tooth. "Here's a reet, a reet of 
lilies I guess and some kind of damn vine. And witness the writing 
on the little card, witness the writing. Do I know dat writing? 
Dat's may sister's writing, and I tot I saw her coming out of 
Cullen's flower shop two blocks off — and I could have used dat 
dough, I could have used dat dough. Say, I know her writing but 
I can't read it, what's she say? Oh, 'Rest, old battler, you win.' Well, 
I'll let her get away wit it dis time." 

In comes Butch Parker, a Class-A heavyweight wrestler. The 
Gilt-Edge Club is a ninety-five per cent fighter's club and wres- 
tlers and weight-lifters who belong, take a terrible razzing all the 
time, or most all the time that is. Butch swings through and fingers 

167 



168 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

something to Doc Hines, the secretary. Butch is grumpy. "Gilt- 
Edge to Maud," he says. And Doc puts one hundred dollars away 
for Maud. 

And now the Gilt-Edge guys are about ready to go to the 
old battler's funeral. 

A guy comes in who is old, but he is slick and trim and agile. 
A toad could tell he has been a champion. He w^ears dark sun* 
glasses and his nostrils are red. A guy or two says, "Hello, Jimmy. 
How are you, old fellow.^" 

A woman comes in. She has been and still is what the guys 
call a dinger. She is wearing dark sun glasses and her nostrils are 
red. A couple guys or so say, "Hello, Maud." 

The doors of the Gilt-Edge Club are now closed and locked 

and there is nobody inside. They are at the old battler's funeral. 

* * * 

And now that the Gilt-Edge is open again a few guys are shuf- 
fling around, refusing to play stuss, coon-can, bottle-pool or any- 
thing else. 

Gympy-Well-Man-Well Berger says, "He hit. In Brooklyn 
he broke my nose and jaw." 

Hard Willie Carome remembered, "I fought him his last fight. 
We fought nine times all told. He was a good guy." 

Sixty-five-year-old Tom Allin with the clean, clear skin and 
the face that would light up a technicolor movie, remembered, "I've 
rubbed him down a thousand times and always he reached in his 
jeans and says, 'Here Tom is a few stray dimes for your steam 
yacht.' " 

Manager Manny Fern, who managed the old battler for a year, 
remembered, "I should have had eighty per cent, but I never had 
the heart to take over fifty off him, and now he's dead, I'm glad 
I was such an old sucker, such an old soft3^" 

Mike (Twin) O'Hearn remembered, "Twin Jack and I both 
fought him, twice. They've never come any gamer. Not since guts 
was invented. He was a gay, happy guy too. Gay, and he liked 
to sing and he liked to play that old jew's-harp he always had w4th 
him. He was a comical guy, too. Twin Jack had him strung on the 
ropes in Frisco and was pouring them into his belly, elbow deep, 
when some ringsider yells, 'That's the place, Jack, that's the place, 
he don't like them down there.' 



The Old Battler 169 

"The old battler was sick, dog sick, but he grins and yells, 
'You know somebody that does?' " 

Porky Willis remembered, "Yeah, he was all you say, Mike, 
all you say." 

Red Shay remembered, "He was smart as hell, too, after all. 
He seconds me once in Baltimore. I'm fighting Young Malin. I 
^m substituting and am all out of shape. In four rounds my fanny 
is brushing the rozzin off the canvas. Young Malin is all gone 
too, but I don't know it then. End of the fifth round, they had 
to lug me to my corner. I tell the old battler, 'I'm done, I'm done. 
I can't get up on my feet.' 

"He says, 'Worry about that some other time, wait till the 
bell rings — that's what it's for.' 

"At the bell, I try to get up and the old battler lifts at me 
under the arms, but bigod no monkey business I can't get on my 
feet. The old battler sees it, then he sticks the small end of the 
water bottle between the stool and my fanny, gives a quick pry 
on it, and jumps from the ring. Whoosh, Whoosh Baby, nobody 
could take a goosin' like that, so up I comes, but my feet are spread 
three miles apart and still spreading and I am falling backwards 
vv^hen something cold in the small of my back stops me. It is the 
old battler reachin' from behind me. His own reach is too short, 
so he steals a little by holding the water bottle straight out at 
arm's length. The bottom just reaches me as I am leaning back 
at an angle of forty-five degrees, and he is calling, 'Stay on your 
feet. Red, stay on your feet. Malin can't get up either. Stay on 
your feet, Red, stay on your feet.' And so, with a little help like 
the old battler's brain work and a long-necked water bottle, Red 
Shay wins himself another fight." 

Punch drunk Kid Hayes stumbled up, mumbling, then remem- 
bered, partly, "Kid Hayes always licked the old battler, Kid Hayes 
always licked him but Kid Hayes always liked the old battler, 
because he showed Kid Hayes which hand was the best hand to 
use to give left hooks." 

Puddler Ryan, once a runner-up for the championship but 
now no sturdier than a paper bag, remembered, "He never carried 
many guys and he never asked any carrying for himself, but he car- 
ried me when I was breaking up with this T. B." 

And now the Gilt-Edge is exiting guys for the night. Ten 
o'clock, three hours earlier than usual and the place is dark and 



170 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

empty except for one small light and two guys in the storeroom* 
One guy is Tommy Root, an around-the-world hobo fighter, and 
pretty much a stranger. The other guy is Billy McCuan, Old- 
Stove-Up Billy, "Pretzel-Legs Billy or Call-me-just-so-you-call-me 
Billy, but mostly Anisette-and- Absinthe Billy. Just the same, Billy 
once drew with a champion twice. 

Tommy and Billy are down and out and they keep the place 
cleaned up for meal tickets, for a four-bit piece occasionally, and 
flops in the storeroom. They are brushing off tobacco crumbs from 
the blankets now and otherwise preparing to sack a little shut-eye. 

Tommy is getting very gabby. 

"Shut up," says Billy, "don't talk to me tonight." 

For three hours there is plenty squeaking from the cots but not 
any snoring from the boys. Billy unwinds himself, gets up and 
says, "I'm going to get a bottle." 

In maybe an hour, maybe an hour and a half, Billy says, "Shut 
up. Let me talk awhile. Anyhow shut up about Australia. And shut 
up about Arkansas and Tennessee where you had such nice corn 
cakes with more side-meat than you could eat, because I been 
down there and there ain't no Milk and Honey Route nowhere 
near. And in one of those states I flashed a $5.00 bill and they run 
me out of the state. They claimed I was a foreigner. 

"And shut up mentioning that you think young Skip Turner 
has a thimbleful of colored blood, or the Gilt-Edge must break 
out its rubber blanket and Billy McCuan must go around with 
a dustpan and a tablecloth brush and pick up your knee caps and 
butt-muscles, your tongue and your heart. Another thing, although 
I'd die before I'd mention it, Billy McCuan got that bottle partly 
for his own use, so hand it over. 

"But the main thing around here is, don't keep on using the 
Gilt-Edge's face towels to shine your damn shoes. Last February I 
had two brothers killed for doing that dirty trick, and our own 
family won't allow any markers on their graves. 

"Another thing to shut up about is asking why Jimmy draws 
so much water around here at all times, and why guys is so extra 
respectful today. And as long as I want you to shut up about 
practically everything, shut up about asking what all about Maud. 
What do you mean, anyhow, what all about her. I told you once 
that she was his wife, didn't I? You got a working knowledge of 
the English language by this time, ain't you? 



i 



The Old Battler 171 

"Here, kill yourself, but leave me what will correspond to a 
drink. 

"And shut up about asking me how long I knew the old battler. 
Twenty-seven years. And we trained together and we roomed to- 
gether and we eat together and we catted around together ten, 
eleven years off and on. And I fought him five times, I suppose 
that's some of your goddam business too. 

"Oh go on kill it, kill it for crysake's kill it. You don't suppose 
I got just one bottle, do you? Or do you? Thanks. You're swell. I 
never saw a guy yet, if he tried to gab all the time about Australia, 
that wouldn't sneak two drinks for one if he had a chance. 

"They buried the old battler today. He's dead. 

"One time the old battler and I quit fighting for awhile and 
charted us a flossy place to give private boxing lessons only. High 
class as hell it was. Cost five dollars to spit in our cuspidor. That 
kind of a place. 

"That was funny. Afterwards, that was funny. Good joke on 
the old battler and me. We quit fighting, see, just got tired of 
training. We figure no more roadwork, our feet are wore off to 
above the ankle now. No more nothing, just tell guys, 'Do this.' 

"We pay two months' rent, second floor, Paul Building. We 
were going to pay one year's rent, but we misjudged a couple goats 
at Moncrief Park, Jacksonville. But we still hold $2,^00. We buy 
lotta stuff, partitions office room, reception room — oh, my yes it 
was that kind of a place — two rub rooms, two private-lessons rooms, 
exercise rooms, oh, everything. Buy swell furniture, office recep- 
tion room. Buy two big mats, four small ones. Buy apparatuses 
all kind. Cost dough. But old battler and me, we don't care. Won't 
have to train any more. Just tell guys, *Do this.' 

"Everything's ready except big sign at entrance and steam 
bath cabinets. Steam bath cabinet guys want $800. We got $800 
all right but we ain't going pay that much. Old battler and me, we 
shop around. One day we see a guy stuck up. Main stem. Daylight. 
Makes us nervous then to carry all our dough. Next morning in 
bed, old battler sits up. 

" 'Hey, Billy, I got a stunt. I show you. You get up and bring 
me over that rack with all our neckties on it, and I show you.' 

"I says, 'Certainly, certainly, I'll get up and bring over that 
rack with all your neckties on it. Or else I'll get a man right away 
to do it for me. Or else I'll give you such a wham in the eye that 



172 Esquire's Second Spoi-ts Reader 

your hips will get black and blue. Get up your ownself and get 
down that rack with all our neckties on it.' 

"Old battler he gets up, gets the neckties and he says, 

" 'See, these old crummy ones what a bum wouldn't wear — 
mostly yours, but I'm glad now you're stingy and don't care how 
you look — see, we poke a big bill or two way up in the end. See, 
they stick there, and these lousy things of yours don't look any 
more lousy or different than they did before. Now see, if some sneak 
thief should come around it's a cinch he won't touch these greasy 
ragged old neckties — mostly yours.' 

"Well, yes, thanks, I'll take a couple drinks on you, seein' I 
bought it. And now, you know what happened .^ Ha, you're pretty 
smart, you been sneakin' off to the theatre or readin' books or some- 
thing. But that's right, some guy steals them. We lose 950 bucks. 
Big joke on old battler and me, for hadda get a couple fights and 
start training again, we hadda start training again after all. 

"No jokes like that in Australia. No jokes like that in that bare- 
toed state you gabbed so much about. They wouldn' have that 
much mone3\ Their state capitol cost only 300 bucks. 

"That was a good joke on old battler and Billy McCuan. Hadda 
train again after all. No, that was no joke. Hadda train again for 
fights get back dough for steam bath cabinet guys and make us 
wait three weeks before we can tell guys, *Do this.' 

"Tomorrow I'll tell you better joke on old battler and me. Same 
steam bath cabinets, too. Guy locks us in steam bath cabinets all 
night. Steam on too. Just old battler's head outside. Just Billy 
McCuan's head outside, too. Nearly cook us to death. Guy nearly 
talk us to death. 

"Fought him five times, fought him five times. 

"Understand was buried. Dead, I suppose.'' 



Apprentice of JManltf Art 

Ly Morton Tnompson 



He threw his left leg over the second rope and then his body 
writhed through and his right leg followed limply and he was 
standing up and waiting self-consciously for the announcer to flip 
the little piece of black and white cardboard. 

Behind him his manager and one of the boys who was acting 
as his second bumped into him as they clambered through the ropes 
into the ring. The round piece of cardboard was spinning way up 
beyond the bright light high over the middle of the ring. Every- 
body's eyes followed it. Then they swung down as it fell and it 
turned up white and he jerked and went to the white comer. He 
had on the old red and grey bathrobe. The one Mom gave him two 
years ago for Christmas. It was too small. Here and there if you 
looked close you could see the threads. Mom wore it around the 
house sometimes. The boy who was acting as his second pushed 
the stool under him. It hit against his legs at the back and he sat 
down. He stretched his legs out in front of him. The other boy 
was coming into the ring now. He had on a pretty cheap looking 
outfit. Just swimming trunks and sneakers. No bathrobe or nothing. 
In the dressing room he'd had to borrow a cup and a jock from 
one of the boys. 

His manager was rubbing the back of his neck gently. Then 
he reached behind him and pulled up the bottle. The bottle was 
covered with bicycle tape to keep it from flying in case it broke. 
His manager was tilting the bottle into his face. With one hand 
the manager held his mouth open. He rested the neck of the bottle 
on that hand. That was so his teeth wouldn't click against the neck. 
He swilled the water around in his mouth and his manager began 
to rub his legs a little. 

When the dry feeling was gone he spit out into the funnel that 
had a tube attached to it. The second crouched on his heels beside 
him. The crowd was getting restless. Two drunks in ringside kept 
telling him to kill the other boy. A blonde woman with a hard face 
was screaming at him. Her man looked uncomfortable. Some of 
the woman's hair was coming down. 

173 



174* Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

The referee was climbing into the ring. The referee was so big 
he could have held a beer barrel on one palm. He was a retired 
world's heavy-weight champion. When boys didn't fight he kicked 
them out of the ring. When a fellow went down and he suspected 
the boy was taking a dive the referee would stand over him with 
his hands on his hips looking like he wanted to spit on him. When 
you went into the ring with that referee you knew you were on your 
own. He wouldn't deign to notice anything but the most flagrant 
fouling. It was just up to you to protect yourself, that was all. 

He hoped he'd make out all right tonight. This was his fifth 
fight in three weeks. You weren't supposed to fight too often. Forty- 
eight hours or something. But three bucks was three bucks. The 
other boy didn't look so tough either. His manager was telling him 
just to go in there and feel him out for a round. He listened and 
nodded with his mind a million miles off. If he won tonight he'd get 
another certificate. They weren't good for anything. But they 
looked nice. Seal of the athletic commission and all. He had eighteen 
so far. Eighteen wins out of twenty-seven fights. Some fellows 
waited until they had a hundred fights before they turned pro. Pro 
was where you made the money. Down at Pico the boys in the 
prelims got six bucks for four rounds. Two bucks went to the 
the manager's cut. Joe Andreadi went pro too soon and nearly got 
killed. A pro license cost ten bucks, too. The manager draped his 
bathrobe over his shoulders. 

The announcer was hollering in a high squeaky voice. He waved 
his arm. The arm came to rest pointing rigidly, accusingly right 
in his face. In this cawn-uh, he was saying, we have Louis, Dyna- 
mite, Peters from Chatsworth. There was a faint tinge of derision 
in the way he said Dynamite. He got up while the crowd was yelling 
smilingly, appreciatively and without looking at anyone bobbed his 
head from this side to that. He kept his gloved hands crossed to 
keep the bathrobe from sliding off. He waited. The announcer was 
ending — Walterson, C.C.C. Camp. The other boy got up too. He 
looked green as hell. He looked nervous. Probably hadn't had many 
fights. His manager put his arm around his shoulders. They were 
walking toward the center of the ring. It was the third spot. The 
referee pulled at his hands to make sure he hadn't any plaster 
under his gloves. Then he looked at the other boy's shoulders and 
wiped some of the grease off. You put grease on yourself to keep 
the skin from cracking and bleeding when you got socked. The 



Apprentice of Manly Art ,176 

referee was saying menacingly: break clean when I tell you to, 
protect yourself at all times, no holding and hitting, shake hands 
now and go to your corners and come out fighting. He went to his 
corner. His manager took the bathrobe from his shoulders. He 
mumbled a parting something in his ear. Then he slipped through 
the ropes. The referee was leaning against the ropes in one comer. 
The other boy was standing up looking at him. Finally the bell rang. 

He stepped in and out for a few seconds. The hard ball in his 
stomach began to get worse. His throat was dry as cotton again. 
The rubber guard over his teeth stuck to his lips. The other boy 
kept bobbing away. He looked pretty clumsy. He looked scared 
too. Suddenly he got a terrific wallop right over the mouth. It 
rocked him all over. Little lights went spinning. Then the lights 
went away and he felt cold suddenly and he had his hands up and 
he was crouching over and the other boy was flailing away at him 
crazily. The hard ball was gone. His mouth was full of spit. He 
saw an opening big as a delivery door. 

He let loose a hard looping left. The green boy went down. He 
went to his corner. The referee began to count. When he reached 
six the green boy got up on one knee and before he could say seven 
he was on his feet waiting. The green boy backed away. He put 
both hands in front of his face and crouched over. He would not 
fight. The crowd began to boo. The blonde woman was screaming 
and screaming and screaming. The referee started towards them. 
He said to the green boy in a low voice, c'mon and fight. The ref 's 
coming over and the crowd's getting mad. He acted the same way 
when he was green. A wiser boy had whispered to him just like 
that too. Then as soon as he put his hands down to obey, the other 
boy had knocked him smash in the stomach. He waited to see if the 
green boy would drop his hands. He had his left ready for a hook. 
The hook should land right over the liver. But the green boy came 
out flailing all of a sudden and the ref went back and leaned on 
the ropes again and the crowd stopped booing like magic. Blood 
was running out of his nose. The green boy had found him with 
one. He'd better play cautious. He started to feint. The bell rang. 

The second was in the ring like a weasel. The manager climbed 
ponderously. The second sat him down on the little stool. The 
manager began to rub the back of his neck and his chest again. 
The second was rolling the muscles of his outflung legs like his 
life depended on it. When he acted somebody else's second he 



176 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

did the same thing. Then the manager was tilting a mouthful 
of water into him. Wliile he was rolling it around the blood kept 
dribbling from his nose over his lips. The manager was dousing 
his chest with water. The manager put his hand under his trunks 
between his jock strap and his belly. He pulled the constricting 
elastic away. He pushed hard with his palm. The second was hold- 
ing the funnel at his mouth. He turned his head and spit. He saw 
the blonde woman. She was still screaming. Then the manager 
pushed against his belly again and he took a deep rhythmic breath. 
Push and breathe, push and breathe. The elastic snapped back 
against his belly. The manager was sponging his nose. He put 
some adrenalin on a swab and pushed it up. The bleeding stopped. 
His nose felt funny. If it was broken it would take ten fights to 
get it fixed and he couldn't fight when it was broken. He hadn't 
had a job in months. Last time it was in a feed store. The feed store 
man came to the fights and he liked to tell him what to do and 
have the kid wave at him from the ring. He never listened to him. 
The guy was awful dumb about fighting. After awhile the guy 
got tired of fights and then the job was over. His manager was 
wiping him off. The bell rang. 

The referee clapped his hands. His manager was hollering at 
him from below the ring : do what I tole ya. Gw'an ! Gw'an ! He tried 
to remember what he knew he hadn't heard. Automatically he re- 
membered from the last round he was supposed to be careful. The 
kid was green but he had an awful Avallop. He might do anything 
with a wild swing. The thing to do was chop him down slowly. 
Not take any chances. He led with a left jab. It landed. He led 
with another. The green kid's head snapped back. He led with 
another and another and another and another. Fast. The green 
kid covered up his head and rushed into him. He waited. Finally 
the ref came over and peeled them apart. The green kid let loose 
a tremendous swing. It whistled harmlessly. They were in another 
clinch. The ref broke them apart again. Then it happened. The 
green kid let loose another flurry. One of them landed. It hit him 
right over the cup. The crowd was on its feet yelling and booing. 
The ref was looking disgusted as if he had taken a dive. He tried 
to get up but the pain in his groins crippled him. The ring would 
go black, and sulphur smelled and his loins were a sickening ache. 
The cup felt like a brick pressing in on him there. He put both 
gloved hands over the cup and doubled up on the canvas his el- 



Apprentice of Manly Art 177 

bows sticking out straight. The ref was shouting In his ear, get up 
you yellow rat there's nothing the matter with you. The crowd was 
yelling and booing. The ref was counting. When he reached five 
he tried to get up. He fell back again. It didn't hurt so much any 
more. He just couldn't get up that was all. The ref was saying, 
quit your stalling you lousy punk if you expect to get any more 
fights around here. When the ref counted nine he tried to get up 
again. He made it. He kept his hands over the cup. He just kept 
them there automatically. The green kid hit him in the face. He 
smashed him again and again in the face. He could taste blood all 
through his mouth. His ear stung and the nose was bleeding again. 
He was wobbling from side to side. The crowd was hollering stop 
the fight, stop the fight, stop the fight, and the blonde woman was 
screaming and screaming and her hair was coming all down. Her 
lips were bared back from her teeth and her eyes were wide and 
she was screaming without any stop. He was about to go down 
again. The bell rang. 

His manager met him in the middle of the ring and his second 
too and they helped him to his corner. The boy who was acting 
as his second was on him like a flash. He pulled his legs down 
straight. Then he pulled his pants away from his stomach and 
reached down into his jock strap and pulled the cup out. The 
curved piece of padded aluminum was dented right in the middle. 
The ref was standing there and the second handed it to him to 
look at. He said you can't say this isn't a foul. He said how about 
giving us the fight on a foul. The ref looked him right in the 
eye. He said to the second, you can't hurt a man with one of those 
cups on. He ain't hurt anyhow. Put that cup back and get him 
together. The ref stalked off. He liked to give the crowd their 
money's worth. He was so big himself he couldn't imagine any- 
one else ever being hurt. The second looked at him mad as hell. 
He said you dirty sonofabitch-bastard under his breath at the 
ref. Then he put the cup back. It was cold against his flesh. They 
didn't waste any time rubbing his belly this time. They slapped 
him a little and the manager kept holding the smelling salts under 
his nose and he sniffed and sniffed and he couldn't smell anything 
until all of a sudden he got a tremendous whiff and his head cleared 
and the bell rang again. 

He thought as he got up, it's the last round, if I can only last 
out the last round I'll be all right. They were in the center of the 



178 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ring and the ref was telling them to shake hands and they shook 
hands and then he stepped back and hit the green kid with a ter- 
rific right hand before the kid had a chance to get his hands up 
from shaking hands. The kid went down like a log. He walked to a 
neutral corner. The crowd was screaming all over again. Some 
of them were booing but not many. His groin felt like a tight 
rubber band from the force of the punch. The kid on the floor was 
getting up groggily. He swayed around looking for a clinch. As the 
green kid came toward him with head down and hands in front 
of his face he stepped back coolly and sank a jaggling left into 
his stomach. The green kid doubled over in agony. He was about 
to drop, only as he staggered he caught him with another whistler 
right over his ear and that drove them both into a clinch and the 
green kid held on like death and the ref couldn't part them and all 
of a sudden he did part them and they flew apart like sacks. Then 
the green kid's arm swung feebly out and he drew back. He was 
cold as ice now. The crowd was hollering for the kill. He smashed 
a right to the jaw. He smashed two rights to the body. The 
green kid sagged. He smashed a right to the jaw and a left to 
the body. As the green kid fell floorwards he let loose one more 
terrific finisher that landed on the left kidney. Then he walked 
back to his corner. The din was like the noise a seashell made 
when you held it against your ear. His manager was holler- 
ing down to some ringside people what dya think of that for 
a seventeen year old kid and the second was grinning. The man- 
ager was happy. He remembered and went back and offered to 
help lug the green kid to his corner but the green kid's CCC 
camp buddies were there already and they looked at him sourly 
and told him to gwan home so he went back and they draped his 
bathrobe over him and he was all hot and sweaty and bloody and 
the blonde woman was still screaming and leaning over to touch him 
and she scratched him all down his right thigh and the man with 
her pulled her back and he was through the ropes and up the aisle 
and guys pulling at him and patting his back and he was grinning. 
When he finished his shower the crowd was hollering while two 
other guys were slugging it out. The man at the admission gate 
window handed him three dollars and the inspector said, nice fight 
Louie, you put up a very nice little battle there old kid, and some 
of the other boys said, nice fight, Louie, nice goin old boy, and the 



Apprentice of Manly Art 179 

match-maker rushed over and said to be sure and be there next 
week, nice goin, Louie old boy, sweet fight, nice goin. 

Then he went out into the night air and it felt swell. He went be- 
hind the arena and got out his bike. He took out a key and un- 
locked the lock that fitted between the spokes. Some guy stole 
a bike off him once after he'd worked for it three years. When 
he got onto the bike and began pedaling home his crotch hurt a 
little still but the pain was going away and he had four miles to go 
and he'd be home. 

When he got home, Mom said to him, how did you come out 
Louie, and he answered, ok Mom, I knocked him out third round, 
he hit me some pretty tough ones, and Mom said, you'll be getting 
yourself killed some of these days too and then you'll be satisfied 
and he gave her two dollars and stuck the other dollar back in his 
pocket and she shook her head. 

There's a new man moved down by the Wimble place might be 
able to use some help sacking onions Mom said and you'd best 
go down see him tomorrow. Joe Orfin was tellin me today. Sackin 
onions was swell. Guys got 20-80 cents an hour. He could train at 
night time. He said boy I sure will. He sat around for a little while 
reading. Then he went to bed. 



TJic Foothall Storif 

Lv E. A. Durana 



A FINK PND I've come to. And through no f:\iilt of my own, cither. 
But that doesn't help matters any. If I had had anythmg to say 
about it I wouhi have ridden on in a bla.'e of glory to a happy 
ending. But did I h;\ve anytliing to say about it.' Did I have any- 
thing to say about anything.- I should say not. My author had the 
whole say right from the beginning. And that was all right with me. 
But what did he have to go and let me do^xii for.' And so sud- 
denly, too. Kii^lit at tlie peak of mv career. I suppose he thinks, 
in Iris superior way, that I don't mind it liere in tl:e wastebasket I 
Well, it may be all right for tailor bills and essays on r.ew thought, 
but not for daok AVcstor.. All- American quarter! That is. I would 
liave made All- American if my author hadn't given up. 

We had gotten to be such good friends. Fred and I. iuid I had 
such faith in him. Fred — t]\-it's wr.at I called my author — gave me 
everything: a wonderful physique, a logical and quick-thinking 
mind, a zest for life, and no inhibitions or complexes except the 
hero 0TU\ His own words — tb.e words with which he started the story 
of my life — may better describe me. 

"Jack Weston., or.e hundred and ninety pounds of bone and 
muscle, tlie crack quarterback of Lincoln Prep, stood on the thirty- 
nine-yard line, his alert brain quickly analyzing the situation.*' 

Tl\eiv. Could anyone wish for a better start than that.' My 
o\Mi reaction wf^s that the thirty-nine-yard line was a swell place 
to start on.e's life, taking ir.to con.sideration the one hundred and 
ninety poui^ds and the alert brain. But what to do: Suppose you 
suddenly came into being standing 0!i tl^e thirty-nine-yard line, 
quickly analyzing a situation? Wliat wouki you do: Well. I'll tell 
you what I did. Or n\ther, I'll let Fred tell you. 

*'Tb.e score was six to nothing against Lincoln with one minute 
to play. Jack hesitated only an instant and then started barking 
out his signals in his contident staccato. *Kick formation I ST — 
4'^ — o9.' Tb.e coacli sat on tlie bencli, aghast. What was Weston 
tliinking of! Why, tliat ph\y was suicide I It hadn't a chance in the 
world I'' 

ISO 



The Football Story 181 

But the coach figured without Fred. Fred knew what to do. 
"The ball came rifling back from center. Jack deftly gathered in 
the pigskin and started out wide around his left end. He gathered 
momentum quickly, his powerful legs working like pistons. The 
opposing team was caught flatfooted. Who but a madman would 
try such a play on fourth down with ten to go ? When they snapped 
out of it. Jack was already around the end, the effortless motion 
of his lithe body belying the speed with which his cleats were 
eating up the distance to the goal line. There were only two men 
who had a chance to stop him!" 

Well, Fred, what do I do now? I suppose it depends on the 
appetite of my cleats. 

"He changed direction in a flash. A right-angle pivot top speed ! 
What co-ordination!" 

There, you see, Fred didn't desert me. It was things like this 
that built up my confidence in Fred. That's why I feel so forsaken 
here in the wastebasket. 

"There was one man left in Weston's way — Brandt Bilkes, 
Jack's arch rival through four years of prep school. Could he stop 
him?" 

Good old Brandt. Always in there trying to stop me and never 
doing it. Must have been discouraging. He made some nice tries, 
though. Like this next. 

"He set himself for the tackle. Jack was bearing down on him 
like one of those new, streamline, Diesel engine, railroad trains. 
Brandt lunged forward, but his arms closed on empty air. Jack 
stepped over the goal line, once more the hero of Lincoln Prep." 

Then I kicked a beautiful drop-kick for the extra, and winning 
point. Oh, yes, Fred made me versatile. I could punt and pass, too. 
In short, the ideal football star. A coach's dream. And modest? 
Why, in one part of the story when someone asks me if I play foot- 
ball, Fred has me say, "Yes, a little." A little, eh? Damn near a 
one man team! 

During the next few months, or paragraphs, Fred did a lot for 
me. He gave me a background. I was the only son of a fine, Ameri- 
can family. My father had died during my early childhood, but I 
had the sweetest mother in the world whose whole life was lived for 
her wonderful son. She sent me to Lincoln Prep for my education 
where I studied diligently and stood highest in my class. I was up- 
right and square, had a fine disposition, and was champion of the 



l8^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

underdog. So, you see, it was pretty hard for me to go wrong with 
Fred arranging matters. 

But I did go wrong. And it was O.K. with me. It was Fred's idea 
anyway. Had to have a plot, he said. And I always let Fred have 
his way. Couldn't do much else. 

It seems that while I was cavoi*ting between the football field 
and the class room, my poor mother was, unbeknownst to me, having 
difficulties in a financial way. You know, the old story. Tuition to 
be paid, graduation expenses, and, of course, the interest on the 
mortgage due. About this time, Fred started having difficulties, as 
was evidenced by the parts he X-ed out and the parts he penciled 
in. There was one little scene between my mother and Old Skrunck, 
who held the mortgage. 

"Oh, Mr. Skrunck," said my mother, "have mercy on an old 
lady with a fine upstanding son in Lincoln Prep where he stands 
highest in his class, and, I understand, plays football-, if one can 
believe the papers." 

But Old Skrunck was "adamant" — a nice word, Fred — and left 
my mother in tears, "knowing not which way to turn." 

Now, I thought that was a fine, dramatic touch, that scene. It 
would give the reader a few tears. But Fred X-ed it out. Said it was 
overdrawn. All I could think of was a crack like, so was my mother's 
bank account, so I let it go. 

Well, to get on with the story, there comes a day in June. 

"Jack sat in his study, looking out over the greensward that 
was the Lincoln Campus. He was writing the Valedictory Address 
which, as highest in his class, he was to deliver at the graduation 
exercises. To look at his placid countenance one would not guess 
the emotional turmoil that was going on within him. The thought of 
leaving those hallowed halls brought mental tears, though his eyes 
were dry. Then the realization would surge over him that next year 
would find him at Yale, and leave him in mental ecstasy. Would any- 
one think that fate was about to deal this fine young man a dreadful 
blow?" 

"Listen, Fred, don't blame fate. You did all the dealing. And 
with a stacked deck, too. 

"But such was the case. There was a knock at the door. It seemed 
to jerk Weston back to the present from both the past and the 
future." 

At any rate, Fred had fate deal me a bobtail flush in the form of 



The Football Story I8S 

a letter from a friend of mine at home. This letter told me of my 
"poor old mother's plight." So I sat there waiting for Fred to fig- 
ure a way out of this difficulty, which, presently, he did. It seems 
I had received several offers from different colleges of cold cash to 
enter their respective institutions. 

"iVs nearly as Jack could figure it, his mother would need at 
least two thousand dollars. And the best offer he had received was 
for fifteen hundred, which was very flattering but not adequate. 
There was another offer of one thousand. If he could only accept 
both of these! He must help his mother. To Jack she was more 
important than God, his country, or Yale. 

"He looked at the two letters idly. What was this ? Coach Snod- 
grass of Wantoona U. who had offered the one thousand dollars, 
had included in his letter the football schedule for the next fall. 
And, Jack noted, they played all their games on Friday evenings, 
under floodlights. Weston quickly turned to the other letter. It was 
from Spagoda Tech. Their schedule was also included, and they 
played all their games on the traditional Saturday afternoons. The 
solution to his problem was at once evident to Jack. (Just a quick 
thinker, that's me.) He would accept both offers. Could a man do 
less for his mother.^" 

Could Fred do more for me? It seems he could. He gave me 
phony names, phony records, (those good marks I got in prep 
school all went for nothing) and enrolled me in both Wantoona U. 
and Spagoda Tech. He situated these colleges in the Middle West, 
about thirty miles apart. There were, of course, a number of diffi- 
culties, and the whole story seemed like a figurative steeplechase 
with Fred, Jack Weston up, taking the jumps in stride. Or maybe 
it was Jack Weston, Fred up. Anyway, Fred was the brains, which, 
I guess, is reiteration. 

But let me tell you, in Fred's words, the events leading up to the 
travesty. 

"Jack was duly matriculated at both colleges. Being a football 
player he never had to go to classes, and he split his afternoons 
between the two institutions. He practiced with Spagoda on Mon- 
days, Wednesdays, and Fridays ; with Wantoona on Tuesdays and 
Thursdaj^s. Every Friday night he would play with Wantoona in 
their scheduled game and on Saturday with Spagoda. For Spagoda 
he used the name Dick Whipple, and for Wantoona, Tom Stubble. 

"As the season wore on, the football world was, each succeeding 



184* Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

week, set on fire by these two great quarterbacks, Whipple and 
Stubble, who were leading their respective teams to decisive victories. 
Controversy raged throughout the country as to which was the bet- 
ter. Committees which had been chosen to choose the All- American 
team were hoping that one of these two stars would show some 
weakness and make their task easier. 

"But neither man weakened, and week after week Wantoona 
and Spagoda triumphed, due solely to the physical and mental 
genius of Stubble and Whipple." 

Well, you can see what was going to happen. The game was 
scheduled, the receipts to go to charity. A new stadium was built 
to accommodate the vast throng who would storm the gates. Scalpers 
would be getting as high as forty dollars a ticket for the fifty-yard 
line. All stuff like that. 

"It was New Year's Eve. Jack Weston, alias Dick Whipple, 
alias Tom Stubble, was in a quandary." 

Well, Fred wasn't in any big, blue limousine himself. He'd put 
me on the spot and couldn't get me off except by the wastebasket 
route. It wasn't without a struggle, though, I'll say that for him. 
He thought and thought, but couldn't figure out a logical conclu- 
sion. And so there I was on the eve of the big game, forsaken. 

It would have been very easy just to forget the whole thing. 
But I couldn't. Think of those thousands of people waiting to see 
me. I couldn't disappoint them. And anyway, I wanted to go on 
living and being a hero. "God damn it," I thought, "I will, Fred or 
no Fred." 

So, having decided to continue on my own hook, what was I to 
do? Well, whatever it was it had to be done quickly for tomorrow 
was the big game. 

"The first thing to do," I said to myself, "is to see what the other 
'characters' in the story think about continuing without Fred, and 
find out if they have any ideas." 

I found my mother back on the third page, so I said, "Hello, 
Mom, what do you think of Fred dumping us all into the waste- 
basket?" 

"Who, me ?" said Mom. "Why I think it's fine. It's the only good 
idea Fred ever had. I was getting pretty well fed up with his having 
me slave away my life, taking in washing and being a martyr so a 
big, healthy good-for-nothing like you could waste your time being 
upright and square and playing football. When I think back — " 



The Football Story 185 

Her voice trailed off, and so did I, in search of Old Skrunck. 
After the way my mother talked I didn't expect much help from 
Skrunck. 

Fred had painted him pretty mean. But I decided to try him 
anyway. 

I found him on page six. 

"Mr. Skrunck," I said, hopefully, "what do you think of Fred 
dumping us all in the wastebasket?" 

"Oh, Hello, Jack," he replied, dreamily. "Isn't it lovely here? 
I'm so glad Frederick gave up. Goodness knows I didn't like being 
mean. I like peace, and quiet, and good-will, and happiness. Can 
you imagine a man of my temperament putting penniless widows 
out in the street ! Ugh ! Now, be a good boy and go away. I'm going 
to sleep." 

And to sleep he went, leaving me alone with my problem. 

Well, let's see. There were Whipple and Stubble. I could count 
on their co-operation. But that still left just one of us. Brandt 
Bilkes. He was left. I found him on the first page. 

I said, "Hello Brandt, old pal, how do you like being thrown in 
the wastebasket?" 

"Oh, it's you again," he said, with a sneer. "I thought I had 
gotten rid of you. You and your high and mighty airs. Pal, eh! 
Thought you were pretty smart throwing me for losses all over the 
football field, didn't you? And now that you've been thrown for 
a loss yourself, you can't take it. Too bad you can't go on playing 
hero. As for me, I've had enough. I'm glad it's all over. And I'm 
glad you've been reduced to scrap paper, too. Well, so long. Hero, 
see you in the trash heap." 

Trash heap, eh ! Not if I knew it. Maybe if I went a little farther 
afield than my own story. I took a look around the basket. Here 
was some stuff. Can a Man Have a Family and Also a Career? No, 
that wouldn't help any. Fun in the Himalayas. No good, either. 
Nudism at a Glance. Not yet. What was this? John Masters: 
Pioneer. That sounded better, so I read what followed. 

"John Masters, one hundred and ninety pounds of bone and 
muscle, crouched behind a big oak, his alert brain quickly analyzing 
the situation." 

That sounded vaguely familiar. I read on. 

"Though he could not hear a sound he knew that Indians, 



186 Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

treacherous Iroquois, were closing in on him. He hesitated only an 
instant." 

And there it ended. I guess Fred gave up right at the beginning 
on that one. Well, that was all right with me. And maybe John 
Masters could help me with my problem. 

He seemed like a fellow with the right angle. Say, why couldn't 
he play on one of those teams for me tomorrow.? He certainly an- 
swered my description. It was an idea anyway. 

I took a chance and spoke to him. 

"Oh, pardon me, Mr. Masters," I said, "but if you can leave 
those Indians a moment, I'd like to make your acquaintance." 

"Just call me John," he said. "I'm glad you come along. I been 
crouching behind this here oak, where Fred left me, long enough. 
The Indians is tired, too. So if you'll tell me your moniker and 
what's on your mind, I reckon we can git acquainted." 

"My name's Jack, Jack Weston," I replied, "and I'd like to 
know what you think of being thrown in the wastebasket?" 

"Well, I don't mind saying, in fact I even like saying, that I 
don't think a hell of a lot of it. But look here, who are you? I 
mean besides being Jack Weston ? You seem to have me pretty well 
labeled, but I don't seem to recall you, that I remember." 

"That's because I came after your time," I replied. "I read 
your story, what there was of it. That's why I know you. And I 
think you can help me." 

So I told him my story. 

"Well," he said, when I had finished, "it's all mighty int'restin', 
I reckon, to anyone who could understand it. As for me, I'll just 
have to take your word for it that you're in a predicament. All the 
same, it seems to me that to be surrounded by Indians is a hell of a 
lot worse than to be in one of them quandaries you was speakin' of. 
Nevertheless, you seem like a honest gent and, leastways, more fun 
than crouching here, so I'll go along with you and maybe we can git 
you out of this here mess. But don't think I'm goin' to understand 
that game you were talking about. It seems kinda silly and compli- 
cated to a Indian fighter." 

"Now listen," I said, "don't despair. You can learn football. 
After all, you have one hundred and ninety pounds of bone and 
muscle, and an alert brain. That's all I had to start with and I be- 
came the greatest player in the country. You certainly haven't 
done so much Indian fighting that you can't turn to something else. 



The Football Story 187 

As a matter of fact, you've really done nothing but crouch. So get 
up and stretch, and I'll tell you what you're to do tomorrow. Why, 
man alive, don't you realize I'm giving you a chance for life !" 

"I reckon you're right," he said, giving in, "and it's in your 
hands, Pard. Here's my hand on it." 

I grasped his hand eagerly, and was pleased to note that the 
same look of determination lighted both our eyes. 

"Now," I said, "we must go into a huddle and figure this thing 
out. The first thing to do is to change your name. You are now 
Dick Whipple, football star of Spagoda Tech. You must try and 
forget that you were ever anyone else. And so, Dick, here is the 
plan I have worked out." 

I really hadn't worked it out very well, but I knew I had to keep 
him interested in my problem and confident in me. 

"First," I began, "we'll have a rainy day tomorrow. This is easy 
to do in fiction. Just write it in. That will make it possible for us 
to get ourselves so muddy before we start that neither the specta- 
tors nor the players can tell us apart." 

"But look here. Jack," interrupted John, "I should think that 
the first thing to do would be to give me a better idear about this 
here game, tomorrow. What kind of weapons do we use?" 

I suppose the task of explaining twentieth century football to an 
eighteenth century Indian fighter and making it seem important, 
would daunt a less dauntless fellow. But am I not Jack Weston? 
I am! So I started to explain just what would happen on the 
morrow. 

I told him only those things essential to his part in the play. 
His job would be to play defensive quarterback, or safety man, as 
he is called, for both teams. At this position he wouldn't have to 
know any signals. His main job would be to catch punts. I, of 
course, would make this easy for him by kicking right into his 
hands. Thus he would have nothing to do except play about forty 
yards back of whichever team w^as on the defensive. Whenever I 
kicked to him he was to catch the ball and run as far as he could in 
a straight line towards me. I, myself, would play offensive quarter- 
back for both teams, changing sides with the ball. 

I was certainly thankful that John had an alert brain. With 
anyone less smart I would have had an impossible task. Even as 
it was, it took considerable time and patience to explain his duties to 
him, simple as they might seem to you and me. There were a few 



188 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

details like when to change goals and what to do between periods. 
You can imagine for yourself my difficulties. If I were Fred I could 
put all this down so much more clearly. Anyway, it's just fiction so 
let tomorrow come. 

Day dawned ! Night faded into day ! Say it anyway you like. At 
any rate, it was the next day. The day of the big game. 

I went over John's duties with him once more. Then I set about 
completing some preparations which did not concern him. I started 
the rain, wrote some headlines for the papers (Whipple or Stuhhle 
— Which? — Never before in the history of football — All- American 
post at stake — ), and, finally, filled the stands to overflowing with 
wet fans who could not be kept away even by rain. I stopped the 
rain about two o'clock, giving the fans a break, and had the open- 
ing whistle blown at two-thirty. 

Everything went fine during the first half. I made three touch- 
downs for each team, amid thunderous applause. What a game I 
played! And what a game John played. Of course, he didn't have 
to do anything but catch punts and run them back a few yards, 
but he did this so well no one even suspected what was going on. 

Along about midway in the third quarter I decided it was time 
for another touchdown. I started out wide around the end for one 
of my spectacular runs. Just as I had got clear, bango ! I went down 
with a thud and there was John hugging my knees. I hadn't told 
him anything about tackling. He certainly caught on quickly. And 
was he enjoying himself! 

Thereafter, I couldn't seem to go anywhere without that dumb 
cluck of an Indian fighter barging into me. Here the game was, all 
tied up, 21 to 21, and if he kept up getting in my way that's how 
it would end. If I was going to be a hero I'd have to make another 
score. It didn't matter for which side. 

The last quarter started. I used all the deceptive plays in the 
bag. But, no go. John didn't even know I was trying to deceive him. 

The game dragged on. I was becoming more and more discour- 
aged. And tired. With less than a minute to play I punted on fourth 
down. With a terrifying war-whoop John caught the ball. He was 
entering into the spirit of the thing a little too well. He knocked 
off about ^ve would-be tacklers and romped right over the rest of 
them, leaving a clear field, except for me, to the goal. And could 
that boy war-whoop ! No wonder Indians scared the early settlers to 
death. 



The Football Story 189 

I set myself for the tackle. John never swerved from his path. 
He hit me and rode over me like an avalanche. 

From my position on the ground I saw him cross the goal line 
as the final gun sounded. I just lay there, watching him being car- 
ried off the field, a hero. I guess I should have quit when Fred did. 



Portrait of a Worm Fisherman 

Ly Lynn Montross 



If an angleworm had ever invaded the Parmachene Club the shock 
might easily have been fatal to some of the more devout members. 
They were of a high-blood-pressure age and income, and as certified 
sportsmen they believed only in fly-fishing — preferably with dry 
flies. Their twelve-acre artificial pond, resulting from a cement dam 
across Owl Brook, was stocked each spring with expensive eight-and 
ten-inch squaretails from the State Hatchery ; and memberships in 
Parmachene were as limited as they were costly. 

On the other hand it would have been hard to find a blacker 
sinner than old Ned Putney, who chewed twist tobacco and brazenly 
fished with worms. But he was the only workman left in the country- 
side who could still swing an artistic adzcj and Parmachene needed 
him in the remodeling of the clubhouse. 

My part was that of the go-between, hearing both sides of the 
story. Coming originally from the city, I spoke the language of the 
summer residents who made up the club's membership ; and having 
spent several winters in my New England home, I was so accepted 
by the local Yankees that they charged me no higher prices than 
they paid themselves. 

Yet at my first interview, the old man was as obstinate as one of 
the oxen he drove behind a bright blue yoke. The tiny veins in his 
face — case histories of many an ancient hard-cider bout — sprang 
into fiery outline. 

"Godfrey Mighty!" he roared, full-throated. "They ought to 
known better'n send you — the dum fools, I told 'em they didn't need 
no beams in that clubhouse. It ain't that kind of a house, can't they 
understand.'^" 

I saw the point. What he meant was that the modern clubhouse 
was held together by nails. But the ancient Cape Cod type of 
dwelling, such as old Ned inhabited, was built from top to bottom 
of heavy, hand-hewn timbers of "pumpkin pine" interlocked at the 
ends and secured with wooden pegs. At the end of the 18th Century 
neighbors helped one another to put up these houses, using few tools 
and "leveling by eye." The first overhead beam became the "rum 

190 



Portrait of a Worm Fisherman > 191 

pole,^' and the host kept a two-gallon jug of rum or brandy hang- 
ing from it. With such a gallant impetus, the massive framework 
went up in a few days of hand-labor ; yet it was built to last for a 
few centuries, since a strain against any one beam is met by the 
united resistance of all the others. 

"It's only for the looks of the thing," I explained again. "Sure, 
the clubhouse doesn't need overhead beams, but they'd look good lit 
up by the flames from the big field-stone fireplace, wouldn't they?" 

Ned snorted like an aged stallion. "How could they look good if 
they wasn't needed?" he demanded fiercely. 

Here was a principle of architecture that applied to modem 
skyscrapers as well as Cape Cod houses, so I retreated to the safer 
ground of economics. "What do you care? They're willing to pay 
well, you know, and you're the only one around here who can swing 
the job." 

He still shook his head stubbornly, but I had a fifth ace up my 
sleeve. "I don't blame you, Ned," I said, beginning the exit from 
his front yard that horse-swapping craftiness demanded. "I sup- 
pose it's almost impossible to hollow out those timbers without split- 
ting — " 

"Hah!" he muttered. "So that's what they think?" 

He was shrewd enough, of course, to scent my obvious trap; 
but he was utterly unable to resist any such compelling bait as a 
doubt of his craftsmanship. His adze was one of the very few things 
left on earth which the Machine Age couldn't challenge, and he was 
one of the last good adze-men left in all New England. "You go tell 
'em," he said in a thick voice, "that I'll yoke up Dave and Diamond 
and be down after them timbers this afternoon." 

As the faithful go-between I reported back to the clubhouse and 
was asked to lunch with the Committee on Remodeling, consisting 
of Mrs. Brantome (laundry machinery, Newark), Mrs. Soames 
(wholesale groceries, Worcester), and Mr. Bugby (paper towels, 
Brooklyn) . The Committee was jubilant at the good nev/s I brought. 
It seemed that when the clubhouse was first built, only comfort and 
utility had been considered by its masculine membership. The archi- 
tecture, if such it could be called, had been shaken up like a cock- 
tail: one part bungalow, two parts barracks, with a dash of log 
cabin. But as Parmachene prospered, and as trout-fishing became 
fashionable, the wives took a sudden and alarming interest. No 
Eden without its Eve, of course, and the middle-aged ladies of the 



19^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

club decided that only a thorough remodeling along Colonial lines 
would do. 

The question of overhead beams had been a poser until the 
architect had suggested that old timbers be hollowed out for light- 
ness, and suspended from concealed steel plates, thus reversing their 
usual role of helping to suspend the house itself. "Can't you just see 
the lounge-room when it's done?" exclaimed Mrs. Brantome, half 
closing her eyes in facile ecstasy. "Pine-paneled walls and Revere 
lanterns wired for electricity and overhead the stained beams with 
the dimpled, hand-hewn marks on them?" 

I replied that I could indeed vision the splendid effect. Mean- 
while I squeezed more lemon juice on a broiled trout which tasted 
faintly of the chopped liver which had reared it to maturity at the 
State Hatchery. "It's a Jock Scott — the one you're eating," re- 
marked Mr. Bugby, his round features lighting up with pride. "I 
tried him first to a Silver Doctor but he wouldn't rise to it." 

At that moment there was a sound as of mild thunder outside, 
punctured at intervals by lightning-sharp commands : "Dave ! YoUy 
Diam'! . . . Hoosh, g'long, both on you!" 

Old Ned Putney had come for the beams. 

*'A worm fisherman," observed Mr. Bugby with distaste. "But 
nothing can change those mule-headed old natives, I suppose." 

He went out to give directions while I trailed along in the rear. 
The beams were piled near the water's edge: immense slabs a foot 
in diameter and twenty feet long; solid and knotty pine a century 
old, with the bark still on. The club had bought them when an 
ancient barn was torn down, for it would have been impossible to 
find new timbers of such impressive dimensions. 

"I should think," said Mr. Bugby, echoing my own thoughts, 
"that you'd bring your adze here instead of — " 

"I'm taking the timbers there,^^ said Ned testily, "because I 
want that I should work in peace without a raft of women around." 
He paused to glare pointedly. "I aim to show you the best adze 
job this country ever seen." 

A bit mollified, Mr. Bugby still yearned to be constructive. 
"Those things must weigh a quarter of a ton apiece — ^won't you 
need somebody to lend you a hand?" 

The old man was all of seventy-five years old, crippled by rheu- 
matism in spite of his powerful build, but he snapped, "I brought 
my pry-bar along, didn't I? . . . Dave, Diam' — hoosh, g'long!'" 



Portrait of a Worm Fisherman 193 

The oxen surged ahead with the calm insolence of the Irresistible 
Force approaching the Immovable Object. 

By this time I realized that I was not only a witness but an 
umpire to the strange clash between two schools of art, For it was 
no coincidence which caused Mr. Bugby to be fishing on that par- 
ticular side of the pond when Ned returned for a second load of 
timbers. It is doubtful, in fact, if Mr. Bugby would have been 
fishing at all in the middle of a hot afternoon except for a purpose. 
The truth is that Mr. Bugby was proceeding to put a worm-fisher- 
man in his lowly place ; and any trout which might have succumbed 
as a result would have suffered the usual fate of the innocent by- 
stander. 

A tiny flash of crimson, as frail as hope straining against space, 
described an ever widening arc at the end of the tapered line until 
the Ibis finally settled toward the water with an artful little flutter. 
Whisked out almost before it was wet, it took wings again at the 
command of Mr. Bugby's plump hands ; and this time, with minute 
allowance for trajectory and windage, it was wafted down within 
an inch of a half-submerged log some forty feet away. The after- 
noon was blazing, but no aesthetic trout could have failed of re- 
sponse to such talent — the water boiled and the tip of the rod 
went up. 

A bald little man in his late fifties, Mr. Bugby had the air of 
a Buddha as he played his victim. With the same delicate touch he 
used in casting, he offered just enough resistance to persuade but 
never to manhandle a gallant foe. One did not need to be told that 
he had fished waters as exotic as those of Scotland and Norway 
when at last he netted a fifteen-inch beauty and allowed it to slide 
gently off the barbless hook into the bottom of the boat. 

My admiration was so intense that for the moment I forgave 
Mr. Bugby the non-absorbent qualities of his famous paper towels. 
I foresaw that I would emerge from gents' washrooms the rest of 
my life surreptitiously using my handkerchief to finish drying my 
hands, but without bearing Mr. Bugby any further grudge. 

Ned was speechless. His jaws worked a long while before he 
made the only comment left to him. He spat — and on an alder twig 
twelve feet away a drenched dragon fly scuttled off in alarm. 

At the explosive sound Mr. Bugby glanced up as if he had 
just noticed spectators on shore. He smiled with bland innocence, 
nodded, lit a cigarette and picked up his oars for the perfect exit. 



194* Esquire's Second Sports Header 

Ned eyed me with sudden and grim resolve. "How," he de- 
manded, "would you like to go fishing with me tomorrow morning? 
Fisliing, I mean, and not crocheting?" 

It would have been cruelty to refuse, even though I held to the 
fly-fishing school of ethics. At sunrise, when I drove into the old 
man's front yard, the first thing I saw was a large tin can with a 
flaming red label — obviously a can of worms shouting its defiance 
to the world. Beside it on the door step was a short bamboo pole 
with a cotton line. 

But Ned was nowhere in sight and I found him in one of the 
woodsheds which trailed out behind the house toward a barn bring- 
ing up the rear like a caboose. Chips were flying as the old man 
swung his adze, and an extinguished lantern hinted that the work 
had been going on since earliest dawn. The hoe-like tool, whetted 
to razor sharpness, rose and fell in easy rhythm; now goilging 
out a chunk which landed with a thwack^ now taking ojff a sliver 
so thin that it floated to the floor. "By Godfrey!" grumbled Ned. 
"If they think I can't—" 

"Oh, no !" I hurried to reassure him, suspecting that I had gone 
too far in my well-meant challenge. "Why, the Committee on Re- 
modeling even sent me over with a little present for you. It's im- 
ported Irish rye — " 

The cantankerous old fellow uncorked the bottle and sniffed. 
"Guess I'll take it over to Grandma Binns for cough syrup," he 
remarked, unimpressed. "Come on in and we'll have a drink." 

The mysteries of "Forty-Below" were cleared up by his fond 
description as he set out the jug on the kitchen table. This beverage 
was the final product of a barrel of hard cider left outdoors on a 
sub-zero night until all had congealed except a few gallons at the 
core released by means of a red-hot poker. The more icy the 
weather, of course, the more fiery and vehement is the product. 
"Freezes the meekness out of it," Ned explained, the tiny veins in 
his nose already brightening with anticipation. 

Although his bachelor kitchen was spotless, he blew politely in 
my teacup to reassure me against dust before filling it to the brim. 
I took two sips and the reaction was instantaneous. For if wine 
could be said to sing within the human system, or gin to set up a 
sharp yelping noise, the effects of Forty-Below could only be com- 
pared to a pipe organ, with all stops out, playing Yankee Doodle! 
Great, crashing chords thundered through one's very soul and ended 



Portrait of a Worm Fisherman 195 

in tingling notes as far away as the toes, while in response millions 
of hormones joined hands and began a sprightly dance around the 
spinal column. 

"Warming, ain't it?" remarked Ned, noting with approval the 
tears which coursed down my face. He wiped his mouth with the 
back of his hand and refilled our cups. "We'll take some along 
for bait." 

As we scrambled through thickets on our devious way up Hump 
Mountain, the old fellow wistfully told me his side of the story. It 
seemed that he nursed no bitterness toward fly-fishing. On the 
contrary he admitted with tart justice that it was an art which 
might take several years in the learning. 

What he objected to was not the fly-fishing itself but the vul- 
gar class of people it had attracted to a sport once remarkable 
for exclusiveness. 

Indeed it had been a rare distinction in Ned's day to be recog- 
nized as one of the died-in-the-wool fishermen of a community. 
Only a very few loafers, drunkards or wife-beaters had any chance 
to qualify in the long run, since fishing at its best permitted no 
outside interests. Work of any sort, physical or mental, was espe- 
cially apt to blunt the keen faculties required for perfection; and 
nothing must be allowed to interrupt the persevering apprenticeship 
of decades. 

Thus it was that a finished worm-fisherman of the Golden 
Age seldom arrived in less than half a century to that intuition 
and generalship which, more than mere mechanical skill, constituted 
the glory of an authentic master. 

Ned only claimed to be a likely journeyman himself, having de- 
voted so much time to the adze, but he had known giants in his 
day. In contrast the crass intrusion of a paper-towel manufacturer 
was shocking and inconsistent, for how could one pretend to be a 
genuine fisherman while still bowing to the half-gods of respect- 
ability! Such an imposter could only hope to become one of the 
eager amateurs who have always been shunned by the true artist; 
and as for women trifling with a sport which has ever been their 
deadliest enemy, Ned found the idea too revolting for words. 

After several perpendicular miles through second-growth and 
wild blackberry bushes I was bleeding from a dozen wounds, but a 
few gulps of Forty-Below served as an anesthetic. At the same time 
it didn't blind me to the fact that there was no brook yet to be seen. 



196 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Seen?" growled the old man. "When you can see a mountain 
brook you know it's no good. You listen for real trout water and 
smell out the big ones in it, understand?" 

Hugging this reprimand, I stayed in the background while he 
"wormed up" and spat on his hook. Dropping to his hands and 
knees, he edged into a thicket which completely hid the brook. Each 
move was painfully stealthy as he gave his worm a deft flip and 
eased it do^\Ti through a funnel of twigs. 

Before it had time to touch the water there was a splash as 
sudden as a gunshot and the tip of the rod jerked sidewise. Fractions 
of an inch became miles as the old man began to play his fish, sight 
unseen. Even an unguarded twitch counted in such close quarters, 
yet the writhing trout soon began its spiral ascent, scarcely touch- 
ing a leaf as it emerged into the clear and flopped to the grass. 

Ned crawled to reach the next bend. Then he reared up on one 
elbow as he cunningly worked his worm past twig after twig. The 
landing of a trout out of such a jungle constituted an engineering 
feat, but the old fellow made it appear easy. 

I was encouraged to wet a line myself — and spent the next five 
minutes untangling it from the branches. 

For reasons unaccountable, Ned would pass up a long stretch of 
brook, then take several whoppers in succession from a spot which 
appeared no better. Perhaps he really did "hear" and "smell" his 
way upstream ! Finally I creeled a mere seven-incher, my only prize 
of the day, after rescuing it from a choke-cherry bush where the 
leader had become looped around a bird's nest. By this time Ned had 
enough trout for both of us and Grandma Binns. He tenderly 
covered them with ferns, after lining his basket with snow from a 
gorge which the sun never touched all summer. 

More than a week passed before I saw him again and I could not 
help noting a vast change. He looked tense and preoccupied. He was 
about to pass me up in the village without recognition when I 
touched him on the shoulder and he started as if rousing from a 
sleep-walking dream. It was plain that the adze job had become an 
obsession amounting to temporary madness. I had heard of sculptors 
or painters going into such a frenzy while in the throes of creation, 
and I felt guilty for my part in inciting it. 

The neighbors had become curious after remarking a lantern 
gleam in Ned's woodshed until late hours of the night. They guessed 



Portrait of a Worai Fisherman 197 

that something extraordinary must be forthcoming, especially since 
the old man would allow nobody a preview of his handiwork. The 
ancients of the community began to discuss great adze jobs of the 
past, and it was agreed that Uncle Johnny Caldwell was best 
qualified as final critic. 

Aged ninety-six, he had made a study of the adze since and 
including President Polk's administration ; and though he was prac- 
tically on his deathbed from a recent "stroke," he got up as if by 
a miracle and put on his clothes. The last genuine masterpiece Uncle 
Johnny had seen was exhibited in 1859, but the artist had been killed 
at the Battle of Fredericksburg, and no other local talent had ever 
risen to the same heights. 

The atmosphere of tense expectation communicated itself to the 
Parmachene Club, where the lounge-room was now complete except 
for the rough-hewn beams. Paul Revere lanterns, old flax wheels, 
hooked rugs and pewter sconces had crowded out the stuffed and 
varnished trout which once served as adornments; and only the 
ceiling lacked that quaint touch of antique handcraft. 

When the day finally came, a large audience was on hand as 
suddenly as if it had sprung from the earth. The club members 
grouped themselves on one side and the natives on the other, both 
factions staring in solemn anticipation as Ned's oxen thundered 
up the driveway. The day was cloudless but he had covered his 
beams with patchwork quilts in protection even from the June sun- 
light. Looking tired and haggard, he began to unfasten the wrap- 
pings while the crowd waited with the hushed air of people watching 
for the unveiling of a statue. 

As he threw off the last quilt and stood aside with dramatic 
calm, I glanced first at the faces of his audience. Uncle Johnny 
Caldwell uttered a squeak of astonishment and his eyes protruded 
so far that another "stroke" seemed imminent. Mrs. Brantome, of 
the Committee on Remodeling, appeared equally agitated but in 
quite another direction — she gasped, turned pale and shuddered 
from the very depths of her aesthetic and antiquarian soul. 

The reason was apparent when I looked at the beams. For they 
had been finished with such perfection that any hint of a "dim- 
pled and hand-hewn" effect was entirely eliminated. Each one had 
been hollowed out into a thin shell through which the sunlight glowed 
with rosy splendor ; and only a microscope could have detected the 



198 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

adze-marks on a surface as smooth and polished as a plate-glass 
window. 

"Goddamighty !" croaked Uncle Johnny at last ; and then in an 
awed, quavering voice he paid the highest tribute of a century's 
criticism, "Why, you'd swear it'd been done by machi/ne.^' 



A Game of Jiggery-Poker 

Ly RoLert Westerty 



Well, I suppose everybody suffers in one way or another witli 
Neighbors. And even if they don't, well we do. And if you think 
neighbors are nothing, you don't know anything. Because, listen, 
will you.f^ 

The Neighbors who are on our left side are fine. They are called 
Hall, and nine months of the year they are away, and they just leave 
an old man and his wife in their house, and these people we hardly 
ever see. And the other three months the Halls are there, except 
for shouting when they are going away again : "Well, off again until 
August, or September," and pretending to be amused when my 
father shouts back: "Is that (H)all?" which is his idea of a really 
good joke that never goes stale, we don't talk to them, or they to us. 
But the other side of us is the Mendls. And the Mendls are what 
I am talking about, because with them we have a Feud. In fact old 
Mendl has annoyed my father for years by calling out : "What's the 
best word, neighbor?" every time they meet. And I have heard my 
father come home and stand inside the door and tear a newspaper 
into small pieces just standing there, and muttering: "What's the 
best word? what's the best word?" over and over again, and some- 
times putting in words which nobody on earth could call "the best." 
Because my father is a man of Strong Passions, though he calls it 
Personality. And my mother calls it Bad Temper. But I reckon you 
can just take your pick of the three, and still be wrong. 

And if the uncle that lives with us is a Sore Trial, the uncle 
that lives with the Mendls is worse. I mean, if our Uncle Will gets 
on your nerves by rubbing his hands together sharply and dryly 
every half-hour or so and saying: "Hah!" at nobody and nothing 
in particular. What price Uncle Mendl who, whenever he catches 
your eye, gives ten quick winks with his right eyelid, and says : "Yes, 
sir!" which has no significance. I mean, these winks mean nothing, 
because they are automatic and uncontrolled, a self-acting mecha- 
nism designed by Fate to kid you that Uncle Mendl is a Winker and 
a Gay Fellow. But he is not. He is All Wet without a real Wink in 
him. And if years ago it used to fascinate me, this winking, and 

199 



SOO Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

remind me of a camera-sliutter, now it is just irritating. "Hullo," 
you say to him, "Good morning," and he just looks round and winks 
ten times and says : "Yes sir !" You see what I mean ? 

Well, twice every year, our family and the Mendl family pay a 
Visit. Because these Visits provide opportunities, and are part of the 
Feud. And for one Visit the Mendls come to our house, and for the 
other we go to theirs. And though I have talked this thing over with 
my brother a hundred times, we have never decided which is the 
worst, us going to Mendls, or Mendls coming to us. But either is 
bad, so perhaps it doesn't really matter. And anyway, these Visits 
have developed into highly-skilled contests, with strict, unwritten 
rules. And both sides try to win. 

W^ell, this time it is our turn to go to the Mendls. And at eight 
o'clock in the evening my mother says: "Well, isn't it about time 
we were going in next door?" And my father rustles his newspaper 
and pretends he doesn't hear, and my brother pretends that the 
clock is not right. But my mother takes no notice and puts on 
pressure, and in five minutes we are all on the front porch next door. 

Well, old Mendl opens the door and peers out on us with a silly 
grin on his face. Because he is always cheerful, old Mendl is, 
"Nothing I like better than a good laugh," he will say. "Come on 
and snap out of it ! We're a long time dead !" And he will give you 
shai*p slaps on the back until you feel like killing him. And he is like 
this most of the time, which is Bad. And the rest of the time he is 
telling you things, because he always knows everything and never 
lets you tell him anything, which is Worse. 

"Well.^" he says, as if he is astonished at seeing us. "Here you 
are!" 

And my father goes a brick-red, because this feigned astonish- 
ment of old Mendl's is one up to Them. "Yes," he says in a strained 
voice. "Here we are." And we all file in through the doorway. 

"Well, well," old Mendl says. "What's the best word, neighbor.?" 

And my father takes out his handkerchief and wipes his face 
with it. He is looking hot now, and we are all sore, and it is one up 
to the Mendls. 

"Now mind you boys don't make a mess in the hall with your 
muddy shoes," my mother says, and we all look down at the floor 
and see it is very muddy already from the way somebody has 
been walking around it. And then we see Mrs. Mendl's cold eye is 



A Game of Jiggery-Poker SOl 

on us, and we feel better, and my father almost grins. Because 
we have scored one now, and things are brighter. 

So, feeling good, we go through into the living-room. And 
in the living-room is Uncle Mendl, who gets up and gives ten quick 
winks and says: "Yes sir!" which makes my father go red again, 
and the Mendls have chalked up another one. But when my Uncle 
Will who has sidled in behind us suddenly claps his hands and 
rubs them and says: "Hah!" in a loud voice and makes old 
Mendl jump, things are more even. 

Sometimes I think my father and old Mendl ought to realize 
they have a good deal in common. I mean, my father has his brother 
living on him, and old Mendl has his wife's brother living on Mm. 
And both these brothers are No Good. My father's brother at least 
keeps quiet and to himself a good deal when my father is around, 
and he eats sort of deprecatingly and as if he isn't really eating at 
all but just having an odd crumb or two, or sort of chewing up a 
steak just to oblige. And he doesn't try to borrow money very often. 

But old Mendl's brother-in-law is pretty bad. Because when he 
isn't taking the radio to pieces and failing to put it back again, or 
wrecking clocks by "adjusting them," he is taking pulls at old 
Mendl's whisky and getting tight and saying strange things to the 
maids which make them leave almost immediately. And neither of 
these Uncles work, or show any sign of wanting to. 

But on these Visiting days each Uncle is temporarily part of the 
game. I mean, our Uncle Will is on our side and Uncle Mendl is on 
their side. And this seems to act on both the Uncles in a strange 
way, making them Drunk With Power. 

Well, we sit down in the living-room and Mrs. Mendl hands 
round some coffee, which gives my mother an opportunity to bring 
the scores level by putting down her cup after two sips and a cough, 
and smiling at Mrs. Mendl and saying: "Oh well, I don't really 
feel like . . . er . . . coffee, anyway, my dear." And though we are ap- 
preciating the bad feeling that is risen up in an instant. Uncle 
Mendl jumps in and swills down his own coffee and then swills at 
my mother's cup saying : "Yes sir !" a triumph which is short-lived 
because the coffee is hotter than he had thought and makes him 
leap up holding his throat as if he is going to choke to death. 

So Mrs. Mendl gives a sharp sort of a look at my mother's dress 
and squeaks and says: "Oh, my dear, did that clumsy bum stain 
your dress grabbing the coffee that way, why the . . ." and then she 



S02 Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

stops and peers closer. And she laughs in a'nasty way and gays, 
"Oh no. I see now it's an old stain — how silly of me." 

Well, now things are going fine, and when old Mendl suggests we 
have a game of cards you could start a forest fire with the sparks 
that are in the air. You see, it is felt on both sides in this Feud that 
the one that finally makes the other get really sore and start yell- 
ing and blowing his top has come off best, and it is this obstinate 
refusal to admit that the other fellow has made you madder than 
you have made him that keeps this system of Visit alive and going. 

Well, they sit around a table, and there is Mr. Mendl and then 
my mother, and then Uncle Mendl and Mrs. Mendl and then our 
Uncle Will and my father. And my brother and I, and the Mendl 
kid. Lew, who is just a brat and of no account in this or any other 
story, we just stand outside the game to see v/hat happens. 

Well, at first they play poker, and my father wins a bit. So then 
old Uncle Mendl winks and says : "Yes sir! You ever play Hokey- 
Poker.?" And my father looks suspicious and says no he hasn't. So 
"Yes 5zr!" Uncle Mendl says. "It's a swell game, and two play it at 
a time. Look," he says, and gives my father three cards and gives 
himself three cards. 

"Well, what you got?" he says. And my father says he has three 
Jacks. So Uncle Mendl gives my mother three cards and then old 
man Mendl another three. "What you got .^" he says, grinning like a 
looney. But my father taps him on the arm and says wasn't there 
something said about two playing at this game, and Uncle Mendl 
winks ten times and says : "Yes 5?*r ! But not necessarily." A remark 
which seems to me to mean nothing at all. 

"I have two tens and a six of diamonds," my mother says. 

^'And I got a two of hearts, and a four and six in clubs," old 
Mendl says. So Uncle Mendl grins wider than ever. "Good," he 
says, "Now all stake a dollar, see? Just one dollar each." And 
everybody puts in the money and I see my old man is grinning 
fit to bust. So I look at his hand and find that he has three Kings, 
and not what he told old Uncle Mendl at all. 

"All right, now show," Uncle Mendl says, although he knows 
what everybody has got. "Aha!" he cries out, "Otto wins!" and 
pushes the money across to old man Mendl who looks so surprised 
he almost forgets to look pleased. 

Then my father speaks up. "But I got three Kings, not three 
Jacks," he says, and this makes Uncle Mendl sore. "Yes 5ir!" he 



A Game of Jiggery-Poker 203 

says, ^^And you declared wrong, and so you lose. If you had de- 
clared right you woulda won!" And my father goes red in the 
face, because he sees they have sort of got him there, and he can 
say nothing. 

^Well, I'm surprised you tried to cheat, neighbor," old man 
Mendl says very reproachfully, and pocketing the jack. "I sure 
am surprised at that ; yes sir." 

So my father gives a forced laugh and he opens his mouth to 
make a dirty crack and then shuts it again. And he shuts it because 
he has caught the eye of my mother, who can Read Him Like 
a Book, as they say. 

"Yes ^ir!" Uncle Mendl says, and winks ten times. "That is a 
swell game!" 

Well, it seems our family isn't going so good until suddenly my 
Uncle Will wakes up to himself. And he claps his hands, rubbing 
them and says "Hah !" very loud. Then he picks up the cards and 
starts laying them down on the table one by one. 

"I reckon," he says to Uncle Mendl, "I reckon you know all 
the card games, huh?" 

"Yes 5ir!" Uncle M. booms out. There's no card game / don't 
know — or me and Otto between us," he adds, trying to make his 
already good standing with his brother-in-law even better. 

"Sure, you said it," old Mendl says. "I know every game. Why 
I tell you once . . ." he starts off but Uncle Will doesn't give him 
a chance. "Well, I doubt it," Uncle says. 

"You doubt it!" Uncle Mendl says all scornful. "Well you just 
give me one game I don't know. Just one little game, that's all." 

"Well, this game," our Uncle says, still laying out the cards. 

So the Mendl pair cock an eye at the cards, and Uncle Mendl 
gives his winks. "Sure," he says, "I know it's . . . er . . ." 

"Sure," old Mendl says, "it's . . .er . . ." 

"It's called Jiggery-poker," our Uncle says. "Quite correct." 

"Sure," old man Mendl says, very pleased with himself for 
having got out of a tight corner, "sure, that's it." 

Then my mother, who is craftier than her very placid face would 
make you think possible, puts out two dollars. "Oh, this is my fa- 
vorite game," she says, "I'm surprised you don't know it, Mr. 
Mendl." 

"But I tfo," old Mendl says, I do, Madam. I just said so, 



204? Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

didn't I?" and he puts out two dollars also, and then my father 
and Mrs. Mendl put out their money as well. 

"All stakes in the middle of the table," my father says, with a 
nasty look in his eye. And then Uncle Will tells old man Mendl 
that as he's bank, that old Mendl is bank, I mean, he has to put in 
double, which he does very quickly. "I know, I know," he says. 
"You don't have to tell me what to do." And he doesn't even ask 
why he is bank, anyway, because he is that sort of man, as I said. 
The sort of man you can't tell anything to at any time. 

Then our Uncle says "Hah !" and gives them all two cards each, 
and lastily he turns up two for father, a three and a seven. "Good, 
a three and a seven," my father says quickly, "And I win." And 
he scoops up the dough and shoves it into his pocket, still with a 
nasty look in the eye. 

"Hey, but wait a minute," old Mendl says. "I don't get this." 

"I thought you said you knew the game," Uncle Will says. 

"Well, I do. Sure I do. But look . . ." old Mendl says, sweat- 
ing and looking mad. 

"Well, maybe, you don't know this version of it," my mother 
says, with a shot of genius. "This is Canadian Jiggery-poker." 

"Oh," old Mendl says, breathing hard. "I was forgetting for a 
moment. Sure. Sure. We'll try it again, eh?" 

So they all put up another stake, and all draw cards. And this 
time, by some unholy fluke, old Mendl turns up a three and a seven, 
the same as my father had in the last hand. 

"Well!" old Mendl says, "This is lucky, neighbor, eh?" 

But our Uncle Will is equal to that all right. "Oh no sir," he 
says, sort of mournful. "That's not lucky. That's not lucky at all. 
If you ain't bank — fine. But if you're bank it's no good. Not bank 
—7 times 3, 21. Bank — 7 minus 8, 4. No good." he turns quickly 
to Uncle Mendl. "You know the game friend," he says, "That's 
right, ain't it?" And this has Uncle Mendl properly, and he can 
do nothing, except wink ten times and say, "Yes sir !" 

"Well," my father says, "I got an eight and a six, so I guess it's 
me again, because it's ace low," he adds to Mrs. Mendl before she 
can speak or even open her mouth to say w^hat she has got. And in a 
stunned silence my father picks up the dough on the table for the 
second time. 

So the Mendls just blink and don't' seem to be able to say any- 
thing. And my Uncle Will looks Uncle Mendl in the eye and says 



A Game of Jiggery-Poker 205 

very deliberately : "Hah ! Yes si?*," and he rubs his hands together. 

And, as Uncle Mendl starts, my father leans over and slaps old 
man Mendl hard on the back and laughs. Then he says: "Well, 
neighbor, what's the Best Word?" 

And I can tell from the look in my father's face this is probably 
one of the best moments in his life, as he sits there grinning at 
old Mendl who knows everything. 

"Well, neighbor," he says, "What's the Best word? Yes, sir!" 



The Melee of the Mages 

ty Paul Gallico 



So NOW I'm writing a story. What can happen to me? All right, 
so I don't got much education from getting tossed out of grade 
8A of P. S. 191 which is just a couple of blocks east of Delancey 
Street where I was born, for clipping that big, dumb Jake Rosen- 
zweig, so he goes to a hospital. 

Maybe if I don't take that poke at Jake ten years ago for giving 
me the business, when the teacher ain't looking, I go a lot further, 
though I guess I ain't done so bad, have I ? Ask any sporting writer 
about Goldie. Who is writing all the press releases for Hymie 
Korngold's stable of Fighters that Fight, so they go in the papers 
sometimes with only a couple of words changed ? Who takes care of 
the sportswriters around the training camps when we got a boy 
working out, and runs errands for them? Who is even allowed by 
Hymie Korngold sometimes I should handle a boy for him out 
of town when we got a fight that ain't too important ? Little Irving 
Goldstein. But everybody calls me just Goldie. 

So I guess I ain't sorry I put the slug on that big Rosenzweig, 
he should gradually waste away from a fatal sickness, for what 
the lug done to me and them other kids, the bully. A supply of small 
buckshot he used to keep in his cheek, and then "zip !" he'd snap 
one out with his teeth and sting you in the ear or the back of the 
neck. So one day I let him have it. There shouldn't a been no trouble 
only I busted his jawr and made him swallow some of the buckshot, 
it couldn't happen to him better. But he goes to the hospital and 
they give me the heave-o out of P. S. 191 and I hadda go to work. 

But education ain't everything, especially when you got natural 
ability like I have which comes by me naturally, and Joe Park- 
hurst who is the sports columnist for the Morning Democrat says 
it's even better if you are going to write stories you don't have 
too much education or the editors will not know what you are 
trying to say. 

Joe shows me a check for one hundred bucks he got one day 
for writing a story for a magazine out of his head, so I says — 

206 



The Melee of the Mages ^07 

"Boy, what a racket. How long has this been going on? I'll bet 
I could write a story. Gimme the angle will ya, Joe?" 

So Joe says — "Sure, Goldie. It's a cinch. All you do is sit 
down at a typewriter with a lotta paper and just tell what hap- 
pens to somebody." 

I says — "And they give ya dough for that?" 

Joe just flashes the pay paper again. You gotta admit it's 
a convincer, ain't it? 

So that's why I'm writing now the story of how we come to 
win the middleweight championship of the world with Packy Mc- 
Sween at the Yankee Stadium last June from Joe Falone, the 
champion and holder of the world crown, before eighty-nine thou- 
sand people in what the sportswriters called The Melee of the 
Mages, also the Combat of the Conjurors and the War of the 
Wizards. 

Maybe if you was there you are saying to yourself, what is 
the story in that, because after the hocus-pocus between Hex-Eye 
Lipschitz and Professor Swammi the Wabadaba of Waaf is over, 
all you see was Packy slide out from our corner and park his right 
alongside Falone's kisser after which the call for the stiff-wagon 
is in order. 

Chum, I'm telling you that that part of it was just wrapping 
up the package and delivering it C.O.D. What I got is the stuff 
that goes inside the bundle before we hand it to Joe Falone, the 
inside dope that don't get into the papers on account of what 
Hymie Korngold calls it secrets of the trade. 

It begins maybe six months ago when Hymie Korngold gets 
a mad with Hex-Eye Lipschitz who has been working for us regu- 
lar, and tosses him out of the office over the matter of a couple 
of bucks. Maybe it is a foolish thing to do, but Hymie is very fond 
of a buck as everybody knows and if a guy is not entitled to be 
peculiar about something, what is it worth? 

Also since we make the surprise win with Packy McSween over 
K. O. Hogan in the Garden in three rounds last winter with Hex- 
Eye putting the double whammy on Hogan, so it gradually comes 
a weakness over him and he doesn't duck Packy's right, Lipschitz 
— he should getting in both knees eventually enough water to float- 
ing the Queen IVIary — is becoming so swelled up he is not only rais- 
ing his prices double but he is also demanding a piece of the fighter 
which is something Hymie will part with liis right leg sooner than. 



^08 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

I guess you read about Hex-Eye Lipscliitz who is a curious 
character around the figlit racket who has the wonderful gift en- 
dowed by nature to put the hex on a fighter so he loses, just by 
sitting in the opposite corner and giving him the eye. He is a little 
Yiddle, who you would not notice in a crowd except he's got bug 
eyes with a very funny look in them sort of creepy-like, and when 
he gives them to you good, you feel like one good slap on the elbow 
would knock you out for a week. 

Hymie picked him up in Detroit where he was making cakes 
and coffee putting the zing on prelim boys for two slugs apiece, 
brought him to New York and put him on the big time working 
for our stable, and I gotta hand it to him, he done pretty good, 
because we don't lose a fight since he joined up. 

He got a regular price scale of twenty-five bucks for the left 
eye only where the fight ain't so important or you feel pretty sure 
your boy he win anyway, fifty bucks for the right eye only which 
is a lot more powerful and is good for a semi-windup, and one 
hundred smackers cash for the double whammy, which is both eyes 
full strength, where you are in the main event and gotta win. 

So right after we stiffen Hogan, Hex-Eye is around saying 
that he is underpaid for his services and that he will take ten per 
cent of Packy McSween from now on, along with double price 
since nobody expects Hogan will be knocked out and he alone is 
responsible for this glorious victory. 

Naturally Hymie is sore and says Hex-Eye should gradually 
die first, and he is nothing but a banjo-eyed faker what he picked 
up when he was starving in Detroit and made him a national char- 
acter in the newspapers and that the whole thing was only a lot of 
cykology anyway, and that he would expose him and would he 
now get the Hell out of the office. So Hex-Eye Lipschitz quick gives 
Hymie both e3^es, making Hj^mie duck, and then takes the air. An 
itching should it be by him in the nose all day long but he shouldn't 
be able to sneeze yet. 

But I am thinking that is maybe a very wrong thing Hymie 
says to a guy with as powerful an eye as Lipschitz, and I am 
wishing maybe he has not done it, because we are going very good 
with the stable and especially Packy McSween. I guess maybe 
Hymie figures he has done wrong too, for he cools off the next 
day and sends around word to Hex-Eye that he was only kidding 
and he will pay him more money but he should forget about a piece 



The Melee of the Ma^es 209 



&' 



of Packy because Packy is ah'eady cut up Hke a jig-saw puzzle 
and there are not enough pieces left to go round. 

We wait three days and nothing happens and I am getting 
very nervous when Hex-Eye sends word back what Hymie should 
do with his money because he has insulted him and that from now 
on he will have no part of him any more and besides which he has 
signed up with Big Augie Schonblum's stable which is the man- 
ager of Joe Falone, the middleweight titleholder of the world, and 
when he meets up with any of Hymie's fighters in the opposite 
comer, he will not only give them the double whammy with both 
eyes, but also the lip which he has been working on with some good 
klulases, which is Jewish curses, for good measure. 

Well, that is bad, but not so bad, because we don't fight many 
of Big Augie's boys on account of him and Hymie don't get along 
very well together, and we figure we are at least a year away with 
Packy for a shot at the middleweight crown of the world. 

But that just goes to show how things happen in the fight 
racket and that you can't never tell. Angelo Da Spoldi, who is next 
in line for the summer crack at Joe Louis, goes and breaks his arm 
falling off one of them electric horses in Steeplechase Park and Mike 
Jacobs is out at the big ball park match. 

He gotta have something to throw in there, so Uncle Mike gets 
busy and promises Big Augie the Mint, ten shares of U. S. Steel and 
a piece of the Empire State Building if he will sign for Joe Falone 
to defend his middleweight title of the world in the Yankee Stadium 
against Packy McSween. 

Big Augie signs, and we're in. We get the crack at the middle- 
weight championship crown of the world, one of the prized bubbles 
of Fistiana. It is true, there is a side arrangement where Big 
Augie will wind up with practically all the dough with Packy in 
there just for the healthful exercise in the open air, but nothing 
worse should happen to us then we get a chance to lift that title 
a year sooner. 

So trouble starts. Right away we find out why big Augie is 
so eager to put the John Patrick Henry on the dotted line. He 
figures he got the difference. We are so excited about getting the 
match we forget aU about Hex-Eye Lipschitz. He should slowly 
become so crippled in the spine he can't even sitting in a wheel chair 
yet. 

The night of the afternoon we sign up the match for the pho- 



21Q Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

togafers, he calls Packy up on the telephone at his home and says 
— "Listen, Irisher, you tell that cheap goniff of a manager of yours 
that there ain't no use of your even going in the ring against Joe 
Falone, because I will be sitting in his corner and I am putting on 
you the left, the right, and the double whammy and you will be 
stiffen so quick the customers don't even get a chance to take off 
their coats and sit down," and he hangs up. 

So Packy is around the office the next day, all broke up and 
doesn't want to go through with the fight because he says he knows 
that Lipschitz will put the zing on him and he seen how it worked 
on K. O. Hogan. 

This Packy is not like the rest of them bums, he is a good 
kid, when you get to know him, but being a Irisher boy he is 
terrible sensitive and superstitious about the Evil Eye and hexes. 
He is a clean living boy that come outa the Golden Gloves with 
a good left and a short right that reminded you of the one Jack 
Delaney used to throw. 

Hymie developed him good and brought him along easy, and 
we are no worse than even to lift the world diadem from the brow 
of Falone, if Packy will just forget about Hex-Eye and go in there 
and spear with his left until he can find a spot to drop the payoff 
with the ric^ht. 

So Hymie has to go to work on him and says — "Aw, now Packy, 
that's all a lot of hooey. Anyway, Hex-Eye is a Jewisher and it's a 
Jewisher curse so it don't do no good against Irishers." 

"O yeah?" says Packy. "That looked more like a Harp to me 
than a Star of David on Hogan's bathrobe. He was a Mick, but he 
dropped his hands when Hex-Eye put the $100 whammy on him 
and gimme a clip at his jaw." 

Well, Hymie I guess had forgotten that. 

Miss Mitnick who is Hymie's seccatery and a cute trick that 
I could go for myself, with big brown eyes, lets out a sigh, and 
says — "Oh, Packy, I'm just knowing you can beat Mr. Falone. 
He got nothing that you haven't got." 

By which I am having an idea that maybe Miss Mitnick is a 
little sweet on Packy, for which I don't blame her for like I said, 
he is a nice clean-looking kid with red hair. But Packy just groans 
and says — 

"Oh yeah.? He's got Hex-Eye Lipschitz." 



The Melee of the Mages 211 

So finally Hymie has to tell me to go out and square it with 
Hex-Eye. 

I beat it up Broadway a couple of blocks and go over to 
outside the Garden where I hang around until pretty soon Hex- 
Eye comes along alone and I grab him and get a finger in his 
buttonhole. 

"It's 0. K.J Hex-Eye," I says, "Hymie says you're to come 
back to work for him. And to show you there's no hard feelings 
he's giving you five percent of Packy McSween after we win 
the world's title. Now what do ya say?" 

What do I get? I get a look outa them awful bug-eyes so it's 
coming in my legs a weakness already. 

"Amscray, bum," he says. "You go back and tell Hymie Korn- 
gold I wouldn't have no fifty per cent of what's gonna be with 
Packy McSween after I and Joe Falone get through with him. I 
wouldn't take no hundred and fifty per cent. He called me a banjo- 
eyed faker, me what is responsible for his success. You tell Hymie 
next time I am seeing him I am putting a klula on him, down a 
open manhole he should fall and break both ankles. And anj'^way, 
I am sign up with Big Augie, and am very busy. I am putting the 
whammy on a big dinge we are fighting in Philadelphia tonight 
and I must go home and practice before the mirror until it is time 
to take the train." 

I give him a good klula when we walked away. His teeth 
should all gradually fall out down his throat so he should choke to 
death yet. But it don't look so good for our side, what I have to go 
back and tell Hymie, does it? 

So there we are, and time goes by like it does and all of a sudden 
it is only three days away from when we are packing up to go 
to Madam Bey's camp at Summit, N. J. for six weeks of outdoor 
training so we can get a little steam-up for the fight in the papers 
which is not going so good right then because all the boys were 
kind of set for the Da Spoldi-Louis match, and we are very low 
in our minds. 

Packy has not been working out good in the gym at all, and Hex- 
Eye has announced in the newspapers that he is going along to 
Gus Wilson's camp at Orangeburg, N. J. where Joe Falone, the 
champion of the world, will train for his title defense and Hex-Eye 
said that he will also go into training and work out both eyes every 
day so that they will be extra-special sharp and full of the old 



212 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

zing when it comes time to slapping the whammy on Packy Mc- 
Sween. 

Hymie is sitting at his desk, all slumped down with his hands in 
his pockets shaking his head and moaning — "We gotta do some- 
thing, we gotta do something. That kid he lose the fight already. 
A flyweight near tipped him over in the gym today. We gotta do 
something against Hex-Eye." 

All of a sudden he looks up at the ceiling like he was going to 
bust with a sneeze. Then he starts chewing on his lips and bangs the 
desk with his fist and yells — "I got it, Goldie! I got it! Gimme 
that phone." 

He grabs the phone by the neck and gives the number in Yiddish 
first he is so excited, and while he is waiting for it he says to me — 

"Goldie, beat it over to the Garden and round up them boxing 
writers. Tell 'em to be down here at ^ve o'clock this afternoon. Tell 
'em I'm gonna have a statement of the utmost importance for them. 
That always gets 'em. See if ya can get some of those columnists 
too, anybody that's around there." 

So I go over to the Garden and dig 'em up like he says. 

I am back in the office at ^\e o'clock with all of the sports writ- 
ers and columnists I can round up which all are very curious about 
what kind of an important statement Hymie is giving out but I 
can't tell 'em nothing because I don't know nothing what is in 
Hymie's mind. 

I gotta hand it to Hymie, it was good. He keeps us waiting in 
the outside room about fixe minutes. Then he throws open the door 
and says with plenty of the old schmaltz in his voice — "0. K., boys, 
you can come." 

And when we go in, what's standing there? Such a thing 
shouldn't happen in a nightmare. 

It's a tall guy, over six feet with a big black beard so long he 
shouldn't ever have to wear a necktie. He is wearing a black 
cloak like a Rabbi only on his head he got a white turband 
wound around like them pictures of snake charmers. Also he got a 
mustache like a Turk wrassler from Jake Pfeffer's stable. He stand 
there grinning with white teeth like a horse. 

"Boys," says Hymie — "I'm introducing to you Professor 
Swammi, the Wabadaba of Waaf, from India. That's in Asia." 
Then he turns to the guy and says — "Go ahead. Professor, give it 
to 'em just like you give it to me." 



The Melee of the Mages 213 

So the Professor gives a bow and touches two fingers to his 
noggin and then his beard and says like this in a deep voice like 
in Scliule — 

"I am introducing myself, I am Abadullah Swammi, Great Wa- 
badaba of Waaf, Seer and Prophet of Tetragramatan, delver into 
the eighth, ninth and thirteenth mj^steries of Asch Mezareph and 
Sepher Jetzirah, Seeker after the Golden Egg of Bramah, Inter- 
preter of the Nuctemeron, the Zahun and the Mizkun. I read the 
past in the crystal ball, the present in the Sacred Mirror of Cahor, 
and the future in the Secret Scrolls of the Seven Butatars of 
Pharzuph, for one dollar. I am the Alph, the Eph, the Zizuph 
and the Toglas . . ." 

I hear one of the boys in the back row make the crack — 

"Not to mention the Phonus and the Balonus !" 

But Hymie he don't hear anything he is so excited, although I 
gotta say it sounds more like out of the Talmud than from Indians, 
but Hymie just slaps his side and says — ^" Ain't it a spiel, boys, 
ain't it? Has he got it? I'm asking you?" 

Joe Parkhurst says — "He sure is a pip, Hymie. Whadaya gonna 
do with him?" 

"What am I gonna do with him? That's what I'm telling you. 
He's a genuine Indian magic. He is joining up with the camp of 
Packy McSween challenger of the middleweight cTown of the world 
when we are going to Madam Bey's. He is the reply of Hymie 
Korngold Ink. to that cheap, low-life faker Hex-Eye Lipschitz who 
is giving out statements already from the camp of Joe Falone, 
about what he should do when Packy gets in the ring. One look 
from them lamps of the Professor and Hex-Eye should drop dead." 

"You mean he's going away to camp with you?" says Parkhurst. 

"Absolutely and positively ! He's in strict training like Packy. 
He's got to exercising his eye again because he ain't used it since 
the last time in the desert in India when he gives it to a wild hele- 
phant so he's gradually falling down from convulsions." 

The same guy who makes the other cracks says — "Who, the 
helephant or the Professor?" but nobody pays him no attention, be- 
cause them guys know a terrific story when they see it, and after 
they ask a couple more questions they all beat it away to get it into 
the paper and the Professor goes home to pack for Madam Bey's. 

Hymie says to me — "Ain't he terrific, Goldie? But terrific? He 
got a studio in the Bronx. Everybody in high society on the Grand 



214} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Concourse goes to him. It comes to me like a flash. My sister is tell- 
ing me about him. Two weeks ago he is saying to her she is going on 
a trip. And now unexpectedly already she is packing to go up to 
Grossinger's in the Catskills on the invitation of Yella Weintraub. 
Like a flash it comes to me we get the Professor. So he joins the 
camp for ^\e C's if we win the title, three C's if something happens." 

I gotta admit the Professor has a terrific make-up, but I'm not 
going so good for the Professor yet, why I do not know, so I say — 
"Can he give the eye?" 

"Can he give the eye?" Hymie yells. "You're asking me can he 
give the eye? How the Hell do I know can he give the eye? He 
looks like it, don't he? He says he can. We gotta do something, don't 
we? So all right, we take him to camp with us. When them photo- 
graphs come out of the Professor in his turband, that Lipschitz 
should bust from jealousy." 

Well, I'm telling you it's wonderful. Do we get publicity? Two 
hours each morning I gotta spend just pasting up clippings in 
Hymie's press book. 

What looks like starting off may be a crowd of twenty-five 
thousand with a eighty grand gate, is selling already so many 
tickets, Mike Jacobs got to increase the ringside seats and print 
more. 

We got one gang of writers in our camp covering Packy's work- 
out and another bunch that do nothing but just cover Professor 
Swammi when he trains in the ring, putting the eye, after Packy 
is finished working out. And it's the same over in Joe Falone's 
camp where Hex-Eye is training first one eye, then the other and 
then both and issuing statements what he will do to Professor 
Swammi and Packy McSween. 

You can't read nothing else in the newspapers except about 
what they call the "Combat of the Conjurors," the "Battle of the 
Enchanted Optics," and the "Tournament of the Thaumaturgs." 

We are up and down with Packy, who works out good one day 
and lousy the next according to what the reports are coming out of 
Falone's camp^ on Hex-Eye. Like the day the story comes out of 
Orangeburg that Hex-Eye puts the zing on a bottle of Grade A in 
the middle of the ring in front of everybody, giving it only the right 
eye alone and when they open it afterwards, it's buttermilk. 

"Boy," Hymie says to me, "that's bad. I tried to keep the 
papers away from Packy, but he heard it over the radio and now he 



The Melee of the Mages 216 

don't feel so good no more. We gotta have Professor Swammi pull 
one that'll throw a scare into them. Maybe he should work out 
this afternoon wilting some flowers, or something." 

But I says — "Leave it to me, I gotta a better idea." 

So I fix it up with George Lawson, a big shine sparring partner 
for ten bucks extra he should get bewitched, but good. So while 
him and Packy are working a fast round, Professor Svvammi climbs 
up the side of the ring, mumbling something and giving George 
both eyes. I gotta hand it to him, the dinge earns his ten. Right 
in the middle he drops his hands and starts to moan — 

"0 LaAvdy, Lawdy, de eye is on me. I feels the strenth a-oozin 
from mah bones." 

So of course Packy stiffens him with the right, and we get a lot 
of fine publicity in the papers and Packy Starts to work good again 
until we get word the next day that Big Augie has got Clyde 
Beatty to bring a trick lion over from the circus for Hex-Eye to 
practice putting the whammy on, and now the circus is going to sue 
Big Augie because the same night the lion got sick of the stomach 
and died in great agony. 

A couple of days later Joe Parkhurst comes out with a big 
column in the Morning Democrat which is an exclusive interview 
with Hex-Eye Lipschitz himself in which he says — 

"Who did this so-called Professor Swammi ever Hex ? What's his 
record ? Let him go out and get a reputation before he tries to climb 
in the same ring with a man who has put the whammy on some of 
the best boys in fistendom. I say let him name one guy he has give 
the eye to. What goes on.^" 

And then comes in the interview a long list of all the boys 
Hex-Eye has put the peepers to so that they are either knock out 
or lose the dezision, ending up with K. 0. Hogan. 

Well, Packy is pretty sick again when he reads that one, and Hy- 
mie has to think fast so he says maybe it is a good idea if we give 
the Prof, an out-of-town tryout to see if we can't build him up a 
little before we throw him into the ring against Llex-Eye in the 
main event. 

We have a good lightweight, Sammy Levin, going in Scranton 
in a special eight against Rocky Bazone, a couple of nights later 
and Hymie who is too busy to leave, sends me with the kid to 
handle him and tells me to bring the Professor along he should take 
a workout on Rocky who is all washed up and can't punch any 



216 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

more so Sammy is a sure thing to win, otherwise why should we be 
in there fighting him? 

That ain't a trip I'm gonna forget. First they musta had a plage 
of gnats down there in Scranton because I never got stung so many 
times in my life, I am busy all the time slapping at them. And second 
is, the Professor he don't go so good. 

It is a sell-out house because word has been printed that the 
Professor will be there, and so we are in our corners after the intro- 
ductions, waiting for the bell with me telling Sammy how to use his 
left, and the Professor wearing his white turband is hanging over 
the ropes in the corner with me. 

So the bell rings and the Professor fixes his lamps on Rocky 
who is coming out of his corner winding up his right, and says — 
"Mene ! Mene Tekel Upharsin !" which Sammy thinks I am giving 
him some last minute instructions in Yiddish so he turns his head 
and asks — "F05 hoste gezugt Goldie?^^ 

So he is not looking at all when Rocky comes over and parks 
that right square on his potato, and Sammy is out like a light. 

Well, I am telling you that if the knockdown timekeeper is not 
a personal friend of Hymie's and does not give Sammy one of those 
— "One — one and a half, two — two and three quarters," counts for 
about eighteen seconds, he will never get up except I have the 
presents of mind to kick over the water bucket right where Sammy 
is laying so it goes over his head and he makes it, otherwise the 
timekeeper is going to have to say, "Nineteen, twenty, you're out 1" 
no matter how good friends he is with Hymie. 

It takes Sammy four rounds to know what town he's in, but he 
comes around and we get the nod, but just. It's a good thing Hymie 
got friends among them judges too. And all the way home on the 
train them gnats is with us. 

Well, it's all right, and Hymie give out the story how Sammy 
Levin is foully butted by Rocky Bazone, but that the power of the 
Professor's eye holds off Rocky until Sammy can come back and 
dezision him. 

But I am beginning to be a little uneasy by this time and am 
wishing that Big Augie has the Professor and we have Hex-Eye 
Lipschitz, when it comes up the fight. I will like it better. 

So it's coming on close to the big show, and nobody don't write 
no more whether Packy McSween is sweating good, and works four 
fast rounds with his spar mates, or whether Joe Falone's lightning 



The Melee of the Mages 217 

left is as fast as it was two j^ears ago. All that's in the papers is 
what Hex-Eye will do to the Prof, when he gets him in the ring and 
how Professor Swammi will put the Egyptian Blast on Hex-Eye 
before Hex-Eye he even gets one look at Packy. 

The Morning Scimitar comes out with the life story of Hex-Eye 
Lipschitz, and puts on a hundred thousand circulation, so Hymie 
counters right away with a series of signed articles by Professor 
Swammi in the Morning Democrat which is spooked by Joe Park- 
hurst. A couple of guys in Tin Pan Alley even write a song — With 
the Swammi on that Szcannee River Shore. I'm telling you the 
build-up is terrific. 

So it's coming closer all the time to the fight. Hex-Eye goes on 
We, The People on the radio in which he says with his left eye 
alone he will not only put the snore on the Swammi but he will 
cripple all his relatives too. 

Hymie comes right back and gets the Professor on Information 
Please, w^here he turns out an awful dope what don't know any 
of the answers to the questions, but Hymie explains quick to the 
press that that is because on account of the radio he cannot use 
the power of his eyes which is w^hat he is going to give to Hex- 
Eye and Joe Falone the night of the fight so it will be coming 
to them both the St. Vitus dance for a month. 

It is fix up with the Commission that both Hex-Eye and the Pro- 
fessor are issued seconds' licenses so they can walk to the center of 
the ring with the two boys, because that is where the big event 
is going to take place where they will go to w^ork with their wham- 
mies and try to put it on each other and the two fighters, just 
before they ring the bell. 

Hymie and Big Augie reach an agreement in Mike Jacobs' office 
that neither Hex-Eye nor Professor Swammi are to show up at the 
weighing-in, because Uncle Mike points out that when 79,009 peo- 
ple have bought tickets, with the unreserved sections still to go, 
they are entitled to a gander at the big doings, or as one sports- 
writer called it the Duel of the Demons. 

So finally comes the day of the fight which is scheduled for ten 
o'clock at night in the Yankee Stadium, and you couldn't buy a 
ticket for it no matter who you knew. Everybody is going to be 
there to see what happens when the famous Hex-Eye Lipschitz 
meets Professor Abadulla Swammi, the Wabadaba of Waaf, face 
to face. The whole Bronx has a special section to cheer on the Pro- 



^18 Esquire^s Second Si)oi"fcs Reader 

fessor while the Lower East Side and the Grand Street Boys hav^ 
bought two thousand seats together to yell for Hex-Ej^e. 

And I am feeling not so good. That afternoon, I am up in our 
office which is closed, to get a block of tickets Hymie left in his 
desk. No one is supposed to be there so when I hear a sort of 
funny sound from the inside office, I am surprised. I go in, and there 
is Miss Mitnick, and she has her head down on her arms over her 
typewriter and is crying. She ain't a very big dame, and she got 
them soft dark eyes that look even better when they're leaking. 

So I says — "Well, well, sister. Something wrong .f^ What's eating 

ya?" 

She looks up at me so I feel I'm gonna melt and says — "0 
Goldie, Goldie, I'm so unhappy. I'm so afraid Packy isn't going to 
win and will be hurt. I saw Packy last night. He thinks he's going 
to lose. He doesn't believe in the Professor, and I don't either. A 
friend wrote to him from Scranton that the Professor was a big 
flop as a hexer and Levin would have been knocked out except they 
gave him a Chicago count. So now Packy is sure that Lipchitz will 
put the e^^e on him and he will be knocked out too. Goldie ! Can 
the Professor do anything?" 

"Sister," I said — "I'll betcha the Professor couldn't put a cat to 
sleep if he had a can of chloroform in both hands. That Hex-Eye's 
got the goods, because I seen it work on Hogan. It looks bad, 
don't it? A congestion should slowly come to both his lungs and 
it shouldn't be handy an oxygen tent." 

Miss Mitnick puts her head down and is sobbing harder, so 
I'm putting my arm around and saying — "Don't cry so, sister. 
Maybe Packy's gonna win yet because he's got a good punch. 
You're pretty swxet on him, ain'tcha?" 

She says — "Y-yes, Goldie, I am. He loves me too. He said so." 

"Ya known him long?" 

"Y-yes," she says. "We were sweethearts when we went to pub- 
lic school together on the Lower East Side, but we had a quarrel 
and I didn't see him again until I came to work for Hymie. It's all 
made up now, and now he isn't going to win and will get hurt . . ." 

It come to me like a lightning ! 

I'm telling you, I should live so, it comes on me just like a light- 
ning out of the sky. I musta hit poor Miss Mitnick an awful clout 
on the back I got so excited because she jumped up with a scream, 
but I said — 



The Melee of the Mages ^19 

"Sister, I got it. I'm tellin' ya I got it. You just leave it to Little 
Goldie. We're gonna see who puts what whammy on who. An 
Packy's gonna be the new champion of the world. G'bye now, and 
don't you worry no more." 

I beat it over to the Hotel Edison where we had our headquar- 
ters. But fast. They were all back from the weighing-in and sitting 
around the room looking sick, Packy, and Hymie, and Doc who 
works in the coraer with Hymie. 

I says to Hymie — "Where's the Professor?" 

Hymie answers — "He's in his room. He don't feel so good, he 
says. Maybe he wants to take a run-out powder." 

"He's gonna feel worse before he feels better." The next minute 
I'm in his room. He ain't got his turband on and is sitting on the 
sofa looking sort of green because he is scared to death of meeting 
Hex-Eye Lipschitz and he got a just-opened bottle of whiskey on 
the table and a glass, which I knock onto the floor. 

"Professor Swammi," I says — "You and me are going to have 
a little talk." 

So we have a little talk. 

So now I'm gonna tell ya about the fight because maybe you 
ain't a ex-bootlegger, or night-club owner, or gangster or a actor 
or a politician, in which case you wasn't sitting close up enough to 
that ring to really see what happened. 

Boy, if I'm living to be a hundred I ain't never gonna forget 
the noise that crowd makes when me and Packy and Hymie and 
Doc and the Professor come down the aisle to go into the corner. 
Wow! 

The Professor has on a new white turband with a silver star 
sticking up in the front of it and a new cloak that Hymie got made 
up at Brooks Brothers Costumers for him with silver stars and 
moons on it. Did we get a hand with everybody yelling — "Atta- 
boy, Swammi old boy ! Stick it on him ! We're with you I" 

Then Joe Falone, the middleweight world's championship title- 
holder comes in with his gang with Hex-Eye Lipschitz wearing a 
dress suit they rented for him somewhere over on Second Avenue, 
with a red band across his shirt front like a diplomat, puffed up 
like a politician and wearing a pair of blue goggles over his eyes 
so as not to strain them until he is ready to let go the big whammy, 
and the crowd goes wild. 



220 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Come on, Hex-Eye," they yell — '^Show up that big phony! 
Make him like it !" 

Harry Balogh was using the loudspeaker for the interductions, 
but you couldn't even hear them with those because of the noise the 
crowd is making. It seemed like the whole city is split up over who 
is going to win between Hex-Eye and the Professor. 

So the moment comes at last when the referee calls the two boys 
to the center of the ring. I am crouched down at the ringside in 
our corner, and don't think I wasn't sweating. I am so excited 
I can't even think of a good klula to say at Hex-Eye. 

There they are in the center of the ring, Joe Falone and Packy 
shaking hands and I can see Packy's knees shivering, and Big 
Augie and Hymie and Hex-Eye Lipschitz and Professor Abadullah 
Swammi, the Wabadaba of Waaf. 

Everybody in the park is standing on their feet, screaming and 
yelling — "Give it to him, Hex-Eye! Let him have it Swammi! 
Both eyes, Hex-Eye! Put the Indian sign on him, Swammi! He'll 
lay down, Swammi ! Show him up for a phony, Hex-Eye !" 

So while the instructions are going on, the Professor is just 
standing there quietly grinning at Hex-Eye and showing his teeth, 
and they sure were nice, white strong teeth, and I can see that 
Hex-Eye is beginning to get a little nervous because the Profes- 
sor is just standing there grinning at him like a dope without saying 
anything. So the referee finishes his instructions and there comes a 
sort of a lull for a second in which I hear Hex-Eye say to the 
Professor — 

"What are you grinning at, you big sclimoch? You can starting 
to wipe that grin offn your big ugly face, because I'm gonna give 
you the eye, and I'm gonna give it to you now^'^ and he puts his 
hand up to his glasses. 

That crowd stops yelling just like one big hand had shut it off 
with a choke. 

You coulda heard a dime drop as Hex-Eye slowly removes his 
glasses and sticks his puss right up close to the Professor's who is 
still grinning and says — "I am giving you the eye now ! I am giving 
you BOTH eyes !" 

And the next thing you know Hex-Eye is clapping his hands to 
his face and letting out a yell you coulda heard in Weehawken — 

"Ow! Ow, my eyes! I'm blind! Help, I'm blind! I can't see!" 



The INIelee of the Mages 221 



to' 



and starts to stagger around the ring, pawing with one hand and 
keeping the other over his ghms. 

Wow! What a yell went up from that crowd! It sounded like 
eight million people all screaming "Swammi! Swammi! Swammi!" 

The ring is full of confusion. Packy is jigging around with a 
look on his face like he got a reprieve from the Governor. Big 
Augie doesn't know what to make of it and is trying to catch Hex- 
Eye to keep him from falling out of the ring. The Professor is 
taking bows to all four sides, putting his fingers to his bean and 
his whiskers and the referee is looking confused as though he does 
not know just what to do. 

So I A^ell up at him — "Throw that bum out of there and start 
the fight," at just the right moment because it helps him make 
up his mind. He goes over and grabs Hex-Eye by the arm and 
hustles him to his corner and out through the ropes while Hymie 
snatches the Professor who would be in there taking bows all night 
otherwise and gives him the toss. 

"Bong!" The timekeeper yanks the bell, and they're off. 

Joe Falone comes out of his comer, and because he is a little 
dazed by what has happened to Hex-Eye he don't carry his left 
hand as high as he ought, and blowie ! Packy is in there and drops 
the sweetheart right smack on Joe's chinaware, and the referee 
he don't even bother enough to count! 

We got the new middleweight champion titleholder of the 
world's crown. 

Joe Falone is still snoring in his corner when Hex-Eye starts 
yelling — "It's all right now. I can see again ! Where is that Goniff 
so I will put the eye on him now. Show him to me !" So when he finds 
out that his boy has been chilled so he will not be up in time maybe 
to see next Sunday's funny papers, he is around the ringside yell- 
ing — "We was robbed ! I got shot ! I want another chance !" 

But everybody is just giving him the horse laugh, and Hymie 
is in the ring, hugging and kissing Packy and the Professor, and 
talking into the radio, and Miss Mitnick comes up and throws her 
arms around and kisses me and says — 

"O Goldie, isn't it wonderful ! I'm the happiest girl in the world. 
And you said it would be all right. But O Goldie, I'm so ashamed of 
the things I said about Professor Swammi. Wasn't he just too won- 
derful the way he stood there and put a spell on that awful Hex- 
Eye.?" 



SS2 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

So I don't say nothing, and soon she is in the ring with her 
arms around Packy and the photogafers are taking pictures and 
also a picture of her kissing the Professor in the middle of his 
whiskers. 

And I am laughing, because there are 89,000 people in that 
park, but I am the only one that knows that Professor Abadulla 
Swammi ain't no professor at all, and he ain't from India either. He 
is Jake Rosenzweig from P. S. 191 whose jawr I busted for giving 
us kids the business with them little buckshot out of his teeth. 

If I wasn't so dumb I should of known him right away except it 
is ten years since I see him and then he is hiding behind all that 
spinach he grows to play the part of Professor Swammi so he can 
tell fortunes to the suckers in the Bronx. 

And if I got any brains I shoulda known it wasn't gnats that 
night in Scranton but that big bum still giving me the business with 
them buckshot. It don't come back to me until I am talking with 
Miss Mitnick in the office the day of the fight and she says public 
school on the Lower East Side and a quarrel, and then all of a 
sudden, like I say, it comes on me like a lightning, where I seen 
Professor Swammi before, the lug. 

So when I'm in his room the day of the fight I tell him what he 
should do with Hex-Eye when he meets him in the ring and he says 
he ain't gonna go in the ring because he is afraid of Hex-Eye, so 
I tell him if he takes a powder I will tell everyone he ain't no 
Professor Swammi but just plain Jake Rosenzweig, and he is 
more afraid of that than he is of Hex-Eye. 

When Hex-Eye sticks his puss right up into his in the ring, 
Jake has a half a mouthful of buckshot ready for him and lets him 
have it right in the eyeballs. He never made two better shots, even 
in P. S. 191. 

All right, is it a story, or is it.? I'm asking you. If it don't think- 
ing so the editors I am getting ready for them a good klula. It 
should come by them gradually a geschwulst on the larynx so they 
shouldn't be able to talking for eight months, except with the 
hands, where they should getting eventually a roomatism. 



A. Pair of Viking^ 

ty Conraa Aiken 



The first I heard of it — and heard of them — was, of course, from 
the irrepressible Paul. Naturally. Nothing went on, in that little 
English country town, that Paul didn't at once know: and nothing 
lie knew could remain for more than five minutes a secret. He was 
everywhere, with that long aristocratic nose of his, that hawk- 
bright and frost-blue stare — whether it was to make quick notes 
on liis little pad for a sketch, or to make a sketch itself, or to take 
elaborately careful photographs of some obscure "subject" which 
was later to become, as he put it, an "idea." You would meet him 
anywhere, everywhere. Perched on a stile, miles from anywhere, in 
the middle of the marsh, yo\i would find him waiting to get a very 
special and particular light on the reeds, meanwhile writing out, 
in his tiny needle-sharp handwriting, any number of color charts 
for proposed landscapes which read like poems, like Imagist poems. 
Once I discovered him astride an old wreck of a steamroller, which 
had been abandoned by a corner of the muddy little river. And 
once flat on his belly in the very middle of the path to the ship- 
yards, taking, from that earthworm angle — angleworm? — a pecu- 
liar fore-shortened photograph of some up-ended, half -finished 
fence posts. In fact, he was into everything. 

But people, too — he was just as excitable about people, just 
as curious about them, as about anything else. He was a "collector" 
of people, and especially the odd and queer ones, or the brilliant 
ones : and if his extraordinary studio was a perfect museum of odd- 
ments — shells, old bottles, misshapen stones, dead leaves, dead in- 
sects, broken dolls, whatever had taken his fancy, or struck him 
as suggestive — so his salons were full of the most surprising people 
imaginable. He didn't care where they came from or what they 
did, so long as they had character, or were handsome, or were 
amusing — those were the three tests. The social mixtures, at these 
semi-occasional salons, were simply indescribable — women with blue 
hair, yogis, dipsomaniac composers, circus dwarfs, countesses, man- 
nequins, chorus girls — but it made no difference, they always seemed 
to have a good time, Paul saw to that ; and of course Paul himself 

223 



224 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

had the best time of all. Whether he was discussing the psycho- 
logical implications of surrealism with a pale Belgian poet, or giv- 
ing amusingly amorous advice about her make-up to a pretty, an 
extremely pretty, young society photographer, it was all the same 
to him. He enjoyed life immensely. 

It was no surprise to me, therefore, when he came under my 
lighted window, late one summer evening, and told me, laughing 
excitedly, that he had something to show me. 

"What is it," I said. 

''Come down and see." 

When I had joined him in the cobbled street, and repeated 
my question, he asked one of his own — he asked if I knew that 
a fair had come to town. As a matter of fact, I did. Early that 
day I had seen the first of the brightly-striped tents and pavilions 
going up, and the gaudy gypsy wagons drawn up in a ring on the 
playing-salts, and the ditch being dug behind a canvas screen, for 
a latrine, and the fantastic red and gold horses of the merry-go- 
round emerging proudly from their dirty covers. It was the fair's 
annual visit to the town, for a week of penny gambling and loud 
music but there was nothing so remarkable in that. And I said so. 

"Ah — but have you seen it all — have you seen the Drome of 
Death.?" 

"The Drome of Death.?" 

"Yes — and my pair of vikings !" 

"Vikings! A pair of vikings! What on earth are you talking 
about." 

"Then you havenH seen it all — not by any means. My dear 
fellow — ^the most beautiful pair of human beings you ever saw 
in your life ! Come along, or we'll be too late." 

We hurried along the High Street then, to the little cliff that 
overlooks the playing-salts, and there below us was all the glare and 
uproar of the fair — the crowds, the shouts, the strange squealing 
watery music of the merry-go-round, with its circling and nod- 
ding horses, the rows of painted swing-boats, with their tense and 
silent occupants clinging to the ropes as they darted up from light 
into shadow, and down into light again — it was all exactly as 
usual, exactly as it always was. Or so I was thinking, until I heard 
a sound that seemed to me unfamiliar. It sounded like a motor- 
bike being accelerated in bursts, each louder than the last — a 
crescendo of mechanical roars, and then a dying fall, and another 



A Pair of Vikiiiffs 225 



'fc> 



crescendo of roars, and a third ; and looking down from our parapet 
to see if I could find where it came from, I saw the Drome of Death 
for the first time, and then below it, in a dazzle of spotlight, 
standing on a little raised dais of bright red plush, with the two 
motor-bicycles beside them, the vikings. 

Even at that distance, I could see that Paul must be right. 
There was something regal in the proud and careless stance of the 
two blue figures. They stood there above the crowd with a sort 
of indolent patrician contempt : you feel the same thing in a caged 
lion or tiger at the zoo. And when we had descended the steep 
stairway, which quartered down the face of the little cliff, and had 
pressed through the crowds of merry-makers round the gambling 
booths and coconut-sky, and came to the foot of the red plush dais, 
it was at once evident to me that not only had Paul not exag- 
gerated, but that he was guilty of an understatement. The boy 
and girl — for they seemed hardly more than that — were blindingly, 
angelically, beautiful. Angelically, because they were both so in- 
credibly fair, so bloiid) so blue-eyed — but also because there was 
a fierce purity about them, something untamable, almost unchal- 
lengeable. Vikings, yes — Paul had hit the nail on the head, as usual. 
And the effect was further heightened — now that I looked again — 
by the fact that the girl, who was otherwise dressed exactly as 
the boy was, in a blue shirt open at the throat, and loosely fit- 
ting dark blue trousers, wore a snug little blue hat, which sat very 
close to her fair head, with bright silver wings at either side. The 
effect was really magical ; for as she looked over our heads, undaz- 
zled by the brilliance of the spotlight in which she stood, it was 
as if she were already in swift motion, already positively flying. 
She was speed itself — she was an arrow. And her ej^es were the 
bluest, and. the fiercest, I have ever seen. 

Meanwhile, the boy had raced the engine of his motor-bike 
three or four times with a shattering roar, the ticket seller announced 
through a little megaphone that the performance, the last of the 
evening, would begin, and people were climbing up the rickety stairs 
that led to the top of the great varaished cylinder which was called 
the Drome of Death. A perfect cat's cradle of wire stays tethered 
it to earth — I noticed that these, like the wall of the Drome itself, 
seemed to be brand-new — a fact which subsequently, of course, was 
verified. The boy and girl wheeled their motor-bikes along the run- 



^26 Esquire's Second Sports ^Reader 

way to a door in the Drome, which an assistant clamped fast behind 
them, Paul bought the two tickets, and we hurried up the stairs. 

"Do you mean to say they're going to ride round in this mere 
barrel?" I said, as we seated ourselves, and looked down into the 
wooden interior. Viewed from the rim, it really looked like an enor- 
mous dice-cup. The two vikings stood beside their motor-bikes, 
wiping their hands. 

"Of course. Nothing but centrifugal force — quite simple, really, 
I believe — tliey've been doing it for years in the States — but just 
the same it gives you quite a thrill. And those two people — my God, 
did you ever see anything like them? Looh at that girl! Look at 
the way she stands there ! Like a flame, my boy — she's like a flame. 
And he's really just as fine — they're married, I tliink." 

"Married? Those children?" 

"Well, she's wearing a ring — you'll see it when she comes up 
here." 

"Comes up here?" 

"Right to the top, almost up to the top — that's why they've got 
this guard-wire here . . ." 

The boy, his fair cool face turned upward, was saying: 

" — you see how it is — the risks are thought to be too great, and 
therefore we are unable to obtain any insurance whatever. No life 
insurance company will take us — no matter what the premium. 
That is why I ask you to make any contribution you can, no matter 
how small — it simply goes into a separate fund which we keep in 
case of accident." 

He stood there, looking up, calmly and as if appralsingly — one 
hand resting lightly on his hip — the girl was leaning idly, indiffer- 
ently, against her motor-bike, not looking anywhere, and visibly 
bored — it was all quite extraordinary. A cultured voice, too, clear 
and firm — the accent that of a gentleman. Pennies, sixpences, a 
few shillings, fell spinning and rolling into the Drome — he said 
"thank you — thank you — " as he stooped unhurryingly, and with 
irreproachable dignity, to pick them up. The girl watched him, 
unmoving, for a second or two, and then began examining her 
fingernails. 

She remained like that, too, exactl}^ like that, at the center of 
the Drome, while he started his motor-bike, rode with increasing 
speed round and round the tilted floor at the bottom, and then sud- 
denly was circling round the wall itself. The uproar was deafening. 



A Pair of Vikings ^^7 

The pent-up racket of the motor-bike would have been quite enough 
by itself — but in addition the Drome began to creak terrifyingly 
under that swift rush of pressure and weight, and you could see it 
actually changing in shape as the rider flashed round the gleaming 
walls. Higher and higher he came, spiraling always nearer, until at 
last he was roaring past us within arm's reach of the top, the hot 
gust beating against our faces and gone and then back again, his 
fair hair blown back like a flag. And then he was dipping downward 
again : and had taken his hands off the handle bars : and his arms 
outspread was circling as easily as a swallow. It was as beautiful, 
and looked just as easy, as that. It was pure flight. 

I was just going to say something like this to Paul, and just 
thinking to myself that swallows alone, of all birds, seem to use 
flight for pure pleasure, when I happened to look at the girl. 
She had not moved. The proud face, under its silver wings, was 
turned slightly aside and downward, she again examined her fin- 
gernails, still leaning idly against her tilted machine, only once did 
she glance upward toward the moving figure above her; and then 
it was a glance not so much directed toward him as beyond him. 
Was she — as she appeared — so completely indifferent to him? Or 
was the whole behavior merely professional .^^ It did not change 
when he dropped down, slowing, to the tilted floor, and came to a 
stop beside her — nor when he said something to her, in a low voice, 
either. Something very brief, only a word or two — he looking 
straight at her, she looking away — instructions, perhaps, or a word 
of advice. She simply continued to look away, as if through the 
walls, while he was announcing to us, in his polite and cultured 
voice, that he and his wife were the first in the world to ride two 
motor-bicycles simultaneously in the Drome of Death — adding, as 
a cautionary note, that it would be as well if the spectators would 
keep a little back of the guard-wire. And then, in another mo- 
ment or two, the girl had mounted her machine, and was circling 
with greater and greater speed for her first strike on to the wall, 
and— flash ! — she was already there, and the two bright wings were 
swiftly mounting toward us. It seemed to me that she had rushed 
the whole attack on the perpendicular wall much more rapidly than 
he had — or could I be mistaken ? And that even now she was travel- 
ing faster. In next to no time she was whizzing round the very top, 
barely below the guard-wire, the beautiful viking face fixed in a sort 
of fierce serenity of speed, the loose blue collar blown back from 



228 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

the white throat : and then, below, the other machine had suddenly 
shot upwards: and in an indescribable uproar which seemed to be 
racking the w^alls to pieces the two flying figures circled and recir- 
cled, one above the other — the girl keeping rigidly at one level, 
the boy alternately dipping and soaring. One didn't know which 
of them to watch — the rapt face above, or the more brilliant per- 
formance of the boy below. But now, one had to watch him for 
once more he was sailing like a bird, with his hands off the handle 
bars, and now too he was taking something out of his pocket — it 
was a square of black silk, a black handkerchief, fluttering as 
fiercely as if it were flame in its attempt to escape from his hands, 
the two hands holding it up before his face. Yes — he was actually 
going to blindfold himself! The black square blew over his face, 
over his eyes, and was held stiffly there by the sheer speed at which 
he was moving, and now again, his arms outspread at either side, 
he swooped like a swallow round the shining Drome, easily, effort- 
lessly, while the girl above, traveling a little more slowly, for the 
first time seemed to be watching him . . . 

But watching him with that same fierceness, still, that same air 
of remote and unbreakable pride — certainly without fear, either for 
herself or him. Almost angrily, in fact, or contemptuously ; and as 
if impatient, too, for him to be done wdth it, to get it over with. You 
could feel her thinking — "come on, come on, we've had enough of 
this now, you've shown off enough, let's get down off this wall and 
go home" — ! But all the while, too, her own steel-like delight in the 
speed and danger, as if that gleaming perpendicular wall, for her, 
was something more precious than life itself. 

It was coming to an end, however. The boy had whipped off the 
black handkerchief, had tucked it away quickly, was circling down- 
ward and slowing, the bursts of sound from the exhaust becoming 
irregular and intermittent — and novv^ he was out on the floor again, 
and the girl, in her turn, was spiraling beautifully down the wall, 
slower and slower, the silver wings pointing downward, the fierce 
head held proudly back. In less than a minute, without any fuss, 
she had joined the boy in the center of the floor, they were stack- 
ing the motor-bikes for the night, and the people beside us were get- 
ting up to leave. Down below, the curved door in the wall of the 
Drome had been opened from outside, and the assistant had come 
in, bringing a wooden mallet. The girl went out first, without saying 



A Pair of Vikinffs 229 



't> 



a word — the boy just pausing to say something to the assistant, 
then following. Our ten golden minutes were over. 

"Well — " Paul said as we went down the narrow stairs — "was 
I right?" 

"You were right. Words fail me. A pair of nonpareils. Why 
they're incredible! And how exactly like you to find them!" 

He chuckled. 

"Yes — it was a bit of luck." 

"But tell me — why was there no applause?" 

"Isn't that funny? There never is any. Not a scrap. You know 
— I fancy it's because people are really dazzled, really overcome — 
do you think it could be that — ?" 

"It may be — it may be. / certainly was ... !" 

Outside, the fair was closing up for the night. The merry-go- 
round had been darkened, lights here and there were being turned 
off, the last few stragglers were drifting across the littered playing- 
salts. Shadows moved on the curtained windows of the gypsy wag- 
ons and caravans — the fair-folk were going to bed. Beside the 
huge green lorry which was the power-plant, the night watchman 
sat in a wooden chair on the grass — he was reading a paper by the 
light of one naked bulb, stuck in the side of the lorry, and keeping 
an eye on his throbbing motors. Cables ran from the lorry across 
the grass to the merry-go-round, the Drome, the various wagons — 
we stepped over them parefully, deciding to walk home by way of 
the river. 

The boy and girl were nowhere in sight. 



II 

Of course, we both saw them again, and not once but many 
times. How could we possibly keep away from them? We couldn't, 
and didn't. We became addicts, sitting through performance after 
performance — we took parties of friends — we went, in short, over 
and over again, returaing willy-nilly to that delight as the drunk- 
ard returns to his bottle. Paul took along his camera, naturally, 
and got dozens of remarkable photographs — and how many sketches 
he made goodness knows. At the end, we knew those two lovely 
creatures absolutely by heart — as you usually know only those 
people 3^ou love. And all this time, right to the end, they both 



230 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

remained just exactly as superb and beautiful and inviolable as 
they had seemed at the beginning. 

That is, as far as the performance was concerned. And in fact, 
the effect was actuall}^ heightened by what we found out about them 
— it added an element of the dramatic to know what we knew, and 
to know whif they behaved as they did. How much more, too, if we 
could have known how it was destined to end, and how soon — ! But 
that was impossible, of course, and nobody guessed it; and mean- 
while it was quite enough for us to watch day after day the girl's 
savage and contemptuous indifference, and the angry pride which 
so enhanced her beauty, and counter to this, the boy's calm and 
cool and patient courage, the quiet courage of the one who knows 
that he can wait longest. 

A start was made when Paul decided to ask them to Sunday 
tea, and did so, and they accepted. They were surprised, but they 
were also delighted. They came, and it was a huge success, and — 
as Margaret told me afterwards, for I was unable to go, much to 
my sorrow — they behaved beautifully, simply beautifully. Some- 
how, nobody had quite expected them to have much in the way of 
manners — an assumption which was quite unfounded, of course, 
and which collapsed instantly and startlingly when it came out, al- 
most at once, that the boy was the son of a north country vicar! 
A gentleman, in fact, and the girl a lady! Margaret was relieved; 
and Paul was amused; and everybody, as usual, had a good time. 
And lots of interesting things came out. They were both twenty- 
two, and had been married less than a year. The boy had spent a 
few months in New York — it was there that he had learned his 
stunt-riding, while working as a mechanic for the Wall of Death 
at Coney Island, or some such place. And he had decided that he 
would come back to England and be the first to introduce it there. 
With the money he came into from his mother on his twenty-first 
birthday, he bought the rights and plans for the first Drome of 
Death in England, therefore, and had it built at Southampton — 
and only a week before, at Southampton, he and his wife had given 
their first performance. All the money had been spent — it was a 
close thing — and they would be dependent on what they could 
make, but they were confident. And so on. 

It was noticeable — Margaret said — that it was he who did all 
the talking. But a little nervously, and constantly turning to his 
wife, as if half afraid of some shadowy criticism or disapproval. 



A Pair of Vikings SSI' 

The girl said practically nothing. She was perfectly self-possessed, 
and quite amiable, but she made it evident that she preferred to 
listen — now and then turning towards her husband, Margaret 
thought, an expression that seemed perhaps just a shade skeptical. 
Especially of his exploits^ — ^when he was telling of his previous 
exploits. Not that he boasted at all — not in the least. Apparently 
he had in fact been extremely modest about it. But it was when 
he was telling of his winning the Isle of Man trophy, and the race 
from Land's End to John o' Groats, and a few other such things, 
that Margaret first noticed, as she put it, what looked almost like 
a curl of the lip, and an angry flash of light in the girl's eyes. It 
was odd, and a little disconcerting. And moreover, it seemed dis- 
concerting to the boy. 

But that was all, no further light was shed on it at the time, 
and it was not till a few days before the fair left town, and took 
the road for Folkstone, that the thing really came out. 

And all through a package of cigarettes — and the fact that I 
had to call at the jeweler's for my watch, which I had taken to be 
cleaned. The jeweler's shop was at the end of the High Street, just 
beside the cliif, and above the playing-salts ; and seeing the fair, 
and having nothing to do, I went down. Except for one or two of the 
penny gambling stalls, the fair was not officially open in the morn- 
ing, and therefore now it looked a little deserted. Nobody about — 
only a few children. But when I came to the Drome of Death, there, 
sitting on the edge of the red plush dais, dangling his blue-trousered 
legs, was the boy, all alone, and the minute he saw me his eyes 
lighted up with recognition, and he smiled. 

"I imagine you've seen me before," I said. 

"Many times. You're a friend of Mr. Nash, aren't you.^ I think 
he spoke of you." 

I admitted this, and said that I was sorry I had been unable to 
come to the tea, and to meet his wife and himself, and I compli- 
mented him on the show, at which he was pleased, and then he 
asked me if I wouldn't sit down, and I did. But it was when I 
offered him a cigarette that he really showed his pleasure — he fairly 
beamed at me. 

"You know — " he said — "I've been frantic for a cigarette — 
absolutely frantic. Ran out half an hour ago, and not a soul around 
the place, and m^^self alone here, so that I couldn't leave — nothing 
safe, you know, with these gypsies round — thanks!" 



S32 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"You smoke a lot?" 

"Afraid I do. I don't know, in this sort of business you need 
something to do in between-times, something to steady your nerves 
— you know what I mean? When you aren't riding. And in the 
morning, especially in the morning !" 

"The morning?" 

"It's a long wait in the morning — we were disappointed to find 
this town so small, you know, it means you can't have any morn- 
ing performances — bad luck, too, just when we could do with some 
extra cash — and it's bad in this kind of business when you haven't 
got anything to do. You can't drink, not in this game — so there's 
nothing to do but smoke. I'm a chain smoker — so's the kid." 

"The kid—?" 

"My wife." 

"Well, I suppose that's natural. I should think it would get on 
your nerves." 

"Yes. You want to keep going. On the move all the time — that's 
the trouble with a little third-rate fair like this, they only hit the 
small towns, and there isn't enough in it. . . . " 

He smiled, the blue eyes looking lightly at me, and then beyond 
me, as if to something in the future — something quite definitely 
bigger and better than this third-rate fair. But then he waved his 
cigarette toward the merry-go-round, and added — 

"But it's all right, you know, and you've got to make a begin- 
ning somewhere, haven't you? So I suppose we were lucky, at 
that." 

There was a pause, he blew the ash off the cigarette, and then 
after a moment I told him how much I admired the looks of the 
Drome — in which Nash, who was an artist, agreed with me. He was 
delighted with this. 

"It is pretty, isn't it — ?" he said — "yes, it is pretty. A little 
shipyard at Southampton did the building, and they did a lovely 
job of it. Look at that woodwork — like a yacht, it is — everything of 
the finest! Much better built than the Yankee ones — much. You 
know, it's a tricky piece of work to do, too — there's got to be a lot 
of give and play in it, not too rigid — but not too slack either. Have 
you noticed when we go round there's a kind of ripple of the whole 
structure that goes with us — ? Well, that has to be just right. We 
have to tune it up, keep it tuned, just like a fiddle. That's what the 
stays are for — we tighten 'em or loosen 'em — watch 'em all the time. 



A Pair of Vikings S33 

And it'll get better as it ages a bit — got to weather, you know, like 
everything else. It's already improving — gets a little more supple." 

We looked up together at the varnished woodwork of the Drome, 
the sunlight gleaming on its smooth brown flanks, he reached Out 
his hand and touched one of the heavy wire stays — yes, it was true, 
it did remind one of a yacht — or even, yes, of a fiddle. 

"Nash has taken some very good photos of it," I said. 

"Has he?" 

"Of you and your wife, too." 

"Oh? I'd like to see them — I'd like to see them. He's quite an 
artist, isn't he?" 

"Very fine. One of the best." 

We smoked in silence for a minute, and then, to my great 
surprise, he said — 

"And what do you think of my wife?" 

"Your wife — ? How do you mean?" 

"I mean, in the show." 

"Well, of course — I think she's wonderful." 

"You do, eh?" 

He was frowning at me, a little anxious, a little puzzled. I was 

uncertain where his questions were leading, so I merely repeated — 

"Oh yes, we all do. And of course she's remarkably beautiful — " 

"Yes — she is ... I say, would you mind if I cadged another 
fag—?" 

I handed him the cigarettes, he lit one from the stub, and then, 
frowning again, he went on — 

"You see, it's a problem." 

"A problem?" 

"Yes. This show business isn't so simple. Of course, she's good, 
I know that — " 

"Oh, she is !" 

"She's good, but there's more to it than that. You've got to 
think of the effect. On the people." 

"How do you mean, exactly." 

He looked at me searchingly for a second, as if somehow weigh- 
ing me personally in the light of what he was going to say next — 
a troubled look, too, and somehow a little pathetic. 

"Well—" he said— "take yourself. Or Mr. Nash." 

"Yes?" 

"You come to our show, and, as you say, of course, you like my 



S34 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

wife, and that's all right. But then, you see, there is this ^star' 
business. You see what I mean? There's always got to be a star* 
One of tlie performers has got to be outstanding — otherwise, you've 
got no climax." 

"I see. Yes." 

"You see?" He was visibly relieved at my agreement — he 
smiled, and went on a shade more confidently. "You've got to have 
that climax. People want a show to be built up to something. And 
that's what the kid won't see." 

"No?" 

"No. And that's what the trouble is. We can't both of us do the 
fancy stuff, can we? And what I say is, the audience wants to see 
the man do that, not the woman. Don't you think so?" 

"Yes, I think perhaps you're right." 

"Of course I'm right! But she won't see it — no, she won't see 
it." 

He shook his head, gazing perplexedly down at his swinging 
feet, and the grass, where the stub of a cigarette was smoking, 
and repeated once more — 

"She just won't see it. Mind you, / know she could do some of 
the things, some of them — she's got all the nerve in the world, 
anybody can see that — but that isn't the point. And then, besides, 
there's the risk. No woman is quite as good as a man — she's more 
liable to nerves, more liable to make a slip — and in this business 
there can't he any slips. Well, I tell her that, but it doesn't do any 
good. She's after me from morning to night, wanting this or that, 
just to try it once, or try it twice — you know how a woman is, and 
if you give in you're gone . . ." 

He looked at me quickly, and away — and I felt sorry for him. 

"Well — " I said a little lamely — "I think you're perfectly 
right. The show, as it is, is as good as it could possibly be. Your 
wife, with her beauty, just adds the right touch — but if I were 
you I certainly wouldn't let her do anything else! Not me." 

"You think that?" 

"I do indeed." 

"Well, I wish someone could persuade her — but when she gets 
an idea — !" 

He laughed, frankly, boyishly, and affectionately too, as if he 
were thinking very precisely of his wife's beautiful stubbornness, 



A Pair of Vikings 235 

and then he swung himself down to the ground, and I saw that 

his assistant, the mechanic, was approaching. 

"Well," I said, "I expect you'll see us again later!" 
"Right-o. And I say, will you tell Mr. Nash I'd like to see some 

of those photographs?" 
"Yes — of course." 
He was off then, with a quick nervous wave of the hand, and I 

had already turned away toward the cliff steps that led to the 

town when I heard him add — 

"And please excuse me, will you ? Got a little tuning to do !" — 
I waved — he waved in answer — it was the last time we were to 

exchange greetings, though not by any means, the last time I was 

to see him. . . . That was to be a year later. 



Ill 

A year later — yes. And almost to the day. 

By that time, we had all but forgotten him, hadn't we — ? and 
the beautiful girl who had been killed at Folkstone, while riding 
blindfold in a "novelty show" — so the newspaper phrased it — 
called the Drome of Death. We had read about it, only a few days 
after they had left us ; and we had been inexpressibly shocked and 
saddened; and then the boy had written to Paul, and asked if he 
could have some of the photographs ; and Paul had sent them. . . . 

But a year later the same little fair came back, and with it again 
— ^much to our surprise — the Drome of Death. At first we thought 
it must be another — for it didn't look quite right, somehow, and 
it was cei-tainly a great deal shabbier, as if it weren't properly 
kept up. Our doubts were resolved when we drew a little nearer. 

There, on the faded plush dais, stood the boy — but himself 
too somehow faded and cheapened, and looking almost haggard 
— the beauty had gone out of him. Beside him was a girl, a little 
dark creature, dull-faced, dull-eyed. The same blue riding suits — 
but now, no silver wings. The boy was smoking a cigarette, and for 
a moment, when he saw us, he looked guilty. The recognition 
wavered, as it were, between us — and then he lifted his chin, 
proudly, turned his head, turned his eyes, and coldly, fiercely dis- 
missed us. . . . 

And, with a pang, I knew that he was right. 



The Fixed Grin 

Ly RoLert Kinney 



It was raining a little when John came out of the locker room, 
so he paused for a moment in the doorway. Boys were running hap- 
hazardly from the Fifth Form commons room across the lawn to 
Lewis Hall. He watched them, smiling a bit. This was his third try 
at a prep-school, and he hoped the last. North or South, they 
were all alike. The prep-school stamp. He smiled again: Well, he 
wasn't stamped. Dad had wanted him to try this place, Chardwell 
Hall, because he heard that it was different, a better, more under- 
standing one than the others. Well, it wasn't. It was only larger. 
At least at the last one, Lonsdale, he had a few friends. 

John ran quickly through the rain around the path to the 
athletic office. When he went In he saw that Coach was busy with 
one of the lower school kids, bandaging his knee. 

"You want me to wait. Coach ?" he said. "A guy said you wanted 
to see me." 

Coach looked up at him from under his heavy grey ej^ebrows. 
"Sit down there, son. I'll get to you in a minute." 

John took one of the varnished straight chairs and looked 
around, twirling the Spanish grammar he was carrying. The place 
was littered Avith the usual athletic office array of rolls of bandage 
tape, gauze, stray football pads, and medicine bottles. There was 
a heavy odor of oil of wintergreen in the air. 

He watched Coach fooling with the boy. He was a large, bar- 
rel-chested man with long burly arms, but there was a curious 
wistful quality about the man. You knew he thought he was tough 
and wanted you to think so too, but his occasional gentleness — 
as now with the boy, treating his twisted knee with gruff care 
as he wound It — and the way his eyes softened sometimes gave 
him away. You remembered at these times that you had heard 
about his son, how he had been killed in a car wreck. John liked 
Coach and felt sorry for him. Teaching schoolboys how to handle 
a football and dribble a basketball was no job for a man with 
much self-respect. He felt Coach knew it too. 

*'Now, boy," Coach was saying, breathing hard from bending 

236 



The Fixed Grin 237 

over, "You take care of that damned thing. And cut out that 
bellywash, that candy you're always lugging around!" He patted 
the kid roughly on the back and shoved him toward the door. 
"Shoo!" 

Coach tugged wearily at his khaki pants, then shut the door 
and turned to John. 

"Well, Littlefield, they tell me you're in a little trouble?" He 
walked heavily over to his desk and sat down, wheezing and pawing 
at his bald head. But he smiled a little. 

"I reckon so," John said. He wasn't going to commit himself 
yet. 

"You haven't made many friends around here, have you, son ?" 

"No. None at all, Coach," he answered. 

Coach peered seriously at him, then fumbled in the drawer for 
his pipe. He found it and knocked it on the side of the desk. He 
scowled. 

"It's your own fault! These boys think you're a snob because 
you go around acting so aloof. Why, hell, if you were six feet 
tall and weighed a couple of hundred pounds you could get away 
with something like that! But look at you! What do you weigh?" 

"A hundred and twenty-five. I weighed in yesterday." 

"I thought so. You're as thin as one of the school's Sunday 
chickens. Listen," he said, a wistful look coming into his eyes, "I 
know boys, see? And when some spindly little egg like you goes 
around by himself all the time and doesn't seem to fit into the 
things most boys like — and if he isn't too good a scholar, as I hear 
is your case — then that little egg attracts attention. The others 
get to wondering about him. Now it was all right as long as you 
didn't do anything but keep them curious. They didn't have any- 
thing definite to lay on you. If you liked it that was fine ! . . . But 
now I hear you've given them something they can get their teeth in. 

"They wouldn't have bothered you if you hadn't stuck your 
neck out about the game with Lonsdale this afternoon. For the 
last three years running Lonsdale has run over us pitifully, and 
there is a lot of feeling about this game. Why on earth did you 
tell them you were going to sit on Lonsdale's side of the field?" 

John looked quickly at Coach. So they'd told him all about 
it? "A couple of the Six Form boys asked me if I didn't go to 
Lonsdale last year. Then, at the pep-meeting last night, they told 
a lot of lies about Lonsdale giving free tuition to the football 



^38 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

team. They said a lot of silly things like that. I told them they 
were a bunch of liars. Then they asked me why I didn't go over 
and sit on the Lonsdale bench if I liked the place so well. I told 
them I would. I said I thought that was a good idea . . . then they 
threw me out." John's voice had stayed level. He stared down 
at the red Spanish grammar in his hands. 

Coach waited a minute, watching him, then walked to the 
window and looked out into the rain. "Well, Littlefield, I guess I 
see how it is. I don't know. I like you, son, but I want these boys 
to like you. I want you to get along here. I wouldn't be hasty 
now." 

"I'm not coming back here after Xmas, Coach. I have no 
friends here and don't want to have — now. I want to talk to my 
friends this afternoon — there are a couple on the Lonsdale team 
— and I can't see anything wrong in that." 

Coach's voice grew quiet now. He was being nice, John saw. 
"These are all good boys, son, they're good boys, but they're nor- 
mal. They eat too much and they like to have their little hard 
and fast rules about what they think is sportsmanship and school 
loyalty. And, you can't get around it: boys are going to think 
who isn't with them is against them, no matter what the facts 
may be. They know you went to Lonsdale, and they really hate 
those Lonsdale boys ! 

"Even if you do leave here Xmas they'll make things awfully 
nasty for you if you go out there this afternoon and make a fool 
of yourself. Xmas vacation doesn't start until three weeks from 
now, remember that. If you're determined to go through with this 
foolishness, you're done for. They'll beat you up pretty badly 
tonight, and I'm afraid they'll have the sympathy of most of the 
masters here. You see," Coach said queerly, "most of the masters 
in prep-schools have the same set of ideals as their pupils . . ." 
Then he laughed abruptly, embarrassed: — "But don't you dare 
quote me!" 

It wasn't any good, John knew. He felt sorry for Coach sud- 
denly — he was being so damned decent about all this. He knew. 
Coach would stand up for him if he had to, and if it would do any 
good, but he also knew Coach didn't want to. 

His position at the school was already shaky and he had a wife 
to support. And his intervention wouldn't have much effect any- 
way. 



The Fixed Grin ^69 

He went over to Coach and they shook hands. "Thanks a lot," 
John said, "I appreciate this — really. But it's no use. I couldn't 
back down now." 

Coach looked out at the rain. "No, boy, I don't guess you 
could." 

John left the school right after lunch and went to the stadium in 
town. There was no one around yet. It gave him time to think, but 
he didn't much want to think. He knew what he was going to do. He 
lounged back against the wall of the stadium, waiting for the Lons- 
dale bus, and smoked a cigarette. He would get twenty-five de- 
merits if he was caught smoking, but he didn't care now. To pass 
the time and to keep his mind off other things he wondered about 
his friends. He w^ondered especially if Buck Harrison — who was 
sure to come as he was the best end they had — would be older and 
dignified now and call him Littlefield, as he had in his recent let- 
ters, or whether he would be the same as when they had roomed to- 
gether and call him John-John. There would be Buck Harrison 
and Tiny Shepherd and Paul Sellers ... It would be good to see 
them again. 

John suddenly felt hurt and young, realizing how lonely he 

had been . . . 

« « « 

John sat on the Lonsdale bench between Paul Sellers, the water 
boy, and the Coach, Mr. Simmons. It seemed very natural to be 
there, and when Buck and Tiny came back from warming up and 
he told them about what had happened, they laughed and thought 
it was funny as hell. John laughed with them, after a bit, and be- 
gan to think it was funny as hell too . . . 

When he told Mr. Simmons, he received a smile. "We're leaving 
after supper — come back with us if you like. If you are really leav- 
ing Xmas anyway," he amended seriously. 

John thought it over for a moment. But he didn't want to make 
Dad sore . . . and there was no use running out on the school. They 
would say he was yellow and had let the Senior Council scare him 
into it. He could wait until Xmas, and not come back after the 
vacation. 

"Thanks, but I guess 111 see it through, sir," he said. 

"They probably won't do anything to you anyway, Littlefield. 
Just trying to scare you a little." 



240 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

^'Sure," Jolin said, "They're just trying to scare me." He felt a 

lot better now. Maybe they were just trying to scare him. 

* * * 

It was in the middle of the fourth quarter that it happened. 
Before the half both teams had been sluggish, seemingly waiting 
for the latter half to start serious scoring attempts. In the third 
quarter both sides had started opening up. Each of the teams 
scored once, but Lonsdale's try for an extra point failed, the kick 
going wide of the goal posts. Chardwell Hall led, seven to six. 
In the fourth quarter Lonsdale started a march down the field, 
then called for time out on Chardwell Hall's twenty yard line. Coach 
Simmons looked around for Paul to take the water and sponges out. 
But he had gone to the dressing room for some bandages. The sub- 
stitutes were all down at one end of the field. There was no one to 
take the bucket and things out to the team, and he couldn't yell 
loud enough against the noise the crowd in the stands was making 
to attract the attention of the substitutes. Coach Simmons started 
running heavily toward the dressing room. John watched him. He 
could see the coach would never make it in time now. The time 
allowed for rest was over half up. Then he looked at the Lonsdale 
team. They were gesturing nervously at him, perhaps not really 
knowing, in their anxiety, just who he was. He saw that they 
were fagged and wretched . . . 

Then he did that fool thing. He leaned over and grabbed the 
water bucket and the sponges and ran out on the field. As he ran 
he noticed the sudden silence in the Chardwell Hall stands. 

Lonsdale made another touchdown just before the gun, com- 
pleted the extra point, and the game was over. The final score was 
Lonsdale: thirteen, Chardwell Hall: seven. 

He was crossing the field several yards behind the team when he 
saw them coming. Eddie Bowers and Chuck Bilden, two Chardwell 
Hall substitutes, grabbed him by the arms and dragged him toward 
their bus. 

"You don't have to hold me," John said, "I won't run." 

"We know damned well you won't run." 

"Yeah, you won't run ..." 

They didn't do so much to him on the bus going back to school. 
They put him on the steel floor between the seats and stripped his 
coat off and tore his shirt. And they pulled his pants down and 
beat on him for a while with fibre knee pads. And one of them 



The Fixed Grin 241 

slapped hira several times and then beat his head on the floor. But 
he managed to hold up pretty well. He didn't cry or anything. But 
he had started out on the bus with a fixed sort of grin on his face 
and after they had roughed him around a bit he felt it was still 
there. He could not seem to get rid of the grin. 

They stopped the bus behind the gym and threw him out. He 
picked up his coat and went around to the middle dormitory. 
In his room before washing up for supper he examined his face in 
the mirror for the tight grin he had felt on the bus. It was still 
there. He twisted his face and stretched his mouth several times, 
but each time the grin came back. 

After supper he skipped chapel, going down the hill behind the 
dining hall to a grove of tall pine trees. He sat down and smoked. 

His thoughts were jumbled and fragmentary. He felt numb and 
calm, but he knew he was afraid somewhere deep inside himself. 
He tried and tried to find some explanation for taking the water 
out on the field. There didn't seem to be any logic in the action. It 
had just happened. He felt justified in everything else. He won- 
dered about leaving right away and joining the Lonsdale team at 
the hotel in town. He could be home in two days. But Dad would 
raise the roof. And they would call him yellow here. He had started 

the thing, so he had better see it through. . . . He was lonely. 

* * * 

When they woke him up he was amused to see that the two who 
had come for him wore masks and carried large red candles. The 
candles dripped wax on the bedblothes. 

"Get up, Littlefield," one of them said. "We've arranged a little 
party for you." 

"Just let me get a robe . . ." 

"You'll be warm enough, damn you!" They jerked him out of 
the bed. John walked between them down the hall and across to the 
gym. It was cold and there was a moon, he noticed. 

The room to the right of the gym, the Senior Commons, was 
dimly lighted by seven or eight of the large candles arranged on 
chairs around the walls. There were about twenty masked figures in 
the room. Two of them were seated behind a large desk at one end, 
and the rest were sitting down in a semi-circle, facing the desk. 
About twenty thick paddles with holes bored in their ends were 
stacked again the desk on one side, and on top of it, just above 
the paddles, a row of taped and padded baseball bats rested. 



^4)^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

The two on either side of John halted him roughly in front of 
the desk. The middle figure seated behind tapped heavily with a 
wooden hammer. 

"Is this John Beatty Littlefield?'' 

"Yes,'' they all said. It was like a chant. 

The hammer rapped on the desk again, ringing sharply against 
the tense silence. John knew this was all ridiculous, but the atmos- 
phere, though overdone, was successful. He felt the grin again 
and hated it because it was beyond his control. 

The boy in the middle behind the desk stared at him. "Little- 
field," he said suddenly. 

John waited. 

"LittlefieldP^ 

"Yes . . ." 

"Yes, sirT 

"Yes, sir," John said levelly. 

"Littlefield," he said solemnly, "We have had boys before this 
council for stealing, for cheating at gambling, for trouble with town 
girls . . . and worse things — but I want to say right now that I've 
never seen, never heard of, a boy coming before this Council for as 
low a thing as you are guilty of !" A low muttering spread. 

"Have you anything to say?" 

"I'm sorry I took the water out. I don't know what made me 
do that." 

"Is that alir 

"That's all," John said quietly. He wished they would get it 
over. What he said was true ; he really hadn't any more to say. 

After some moments of bickering among themselves the boys 
quieted. The center figure behind the table rapped again. 

"All right, Littlefield," he said, rising. "Now — one last thing. 
Would you mind fighting me?" 

"No," John looked at him. "No I don't." 

"Am I too big for you? Take a look around and find someone 
smaller. We'd all consider it a pleasure to beat you up per- 
sonally . . ." 

"I don't want to fight anyone." 

"Twenty licks with the paddles, five with the bats!" the boy 
yelled. "Littlefield, I want you to know that we have permission 
from the faculty for this, and from Dr. Benwell . . ." 

They bent over him, tying his wrists to his ankles. Then they 



. I 



The Fixed Grin 243 

pulled down his pa jama trousers and lined up twenty feet behind 
him. 

It wasn't so bad. After the first round of paddling he began to 
yell a little, and he got so he would scream when he heard one of 
them running at him with a paddle. But he didn't completely break 
down or beg them to stop. It was only when they finished the licks 
with paddles and started with the baseball bats that he was afraid 
he was going to have to beg them to stop. He had to be held up 
then. Stooped as he was, he couldn't keep his balance. But finally 
one of the bats lost its padding and splashed blood all over when 
it hit him. They got scared then and quit. 

They washed the blood off the floor and desk very carefully. 
But some of it had splashed on one boy and he started crying vio- 
lently. John laughed then. He couldn't stop laughing. When they 
carried him back to his room he was still laughing. It wasn't hys- 
teria, he thought: it was just that everything was so damned funny. 

After they left him, the boy who had cried crept into the room. 
He had a little bottle of brandy he had sneaked in from a weekend 
and some salve. While he rubbed the salve on John's back and seat 
the boy kept telling him how sorry he was about it. John said 
Hell, it was all right. He understood. 

John drank the brandy and felt better. He went off to sleep 

right away. 

* * * 

He waked while the light was still grey in the room. As soon as 
he opened his ej^es he knew what he had to do. He didn't even have 
to plan it. He packed a bag, moving gingerly because of his back 
and seat, and left a dollar and a note for the dormitory Negro, 
telling him to pack the trunk and get it off. 

He went out to the hall and called a cab. Then he called Mr. 
Faber, the assistant headmaster. He knew it wasn't any use calling 
Dr. Benwell, the headmaster. He got Mr. Faber finally. 

He went over to Mr. Faber's cottage next door and told him 
about it while he yawned and had coffee. John saw right away that 
he didn't know anything about it. 

Mr. Faber asked him if they had beaten him much, and John 
said no, not so much — that wasn't why he was leaving. He just 
didn't like the school and the school didn't like him. 

Mr. Faber finally shrugged contemptuously and said if that was 
the way he felt about it that was just too bad. They wouldn't try, 



244} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

to keep him. But lie wouldn't give him any money. He said John 
would have to wait until after breakfast when the Administration 
office opened if he wanted to draw his allowance deposit. 

John looked at him sitting there in his blue silk dressing gown. 
"You go quietly to hell, sir," John said. "I have some money — 
enough for my ticket anyway." They stared at each other. John 
could hear him at the faculty meeting: "And the impudent pup 
swore at me! Why, gentlemen, I don't blame our boys for what 
little they may have done to him . . ." John thought that would 
be just fine. . . . 

W 7^ V 

At the bus station he found he hadn't enough money for his fare 
to Washington, after all — the fare was sixteen dollars and he only 
had fourteen and a half, and he would have to eat. But he remem- 
bered that he could wire Dad to send him money at Winston-Salem 
— then he could pick it up when the bus went through. 

He found a seat to himself at the rear of the bus, folded his top- 
coat and stretched out on it. He lit a cigarette and lolled back. He 
distinctly felt that grin fixed on his face, but he didn't worry about 
it much now. That grin was going to be with him a long time, he 
knew. And anyway he was beginning to rather like it. 



Daughter of Danny the Red 

ty Roaerick Lull 



It was the first time I had seen my uncle alone for weeks, and I was 
enjoying myself. There was in it a pleasant sense of guilt, what with 
knowing of the small opinion the women-folk in our family had of 
his habits and his morals — an opinion that even my father was 
beginning to share to an extent. My uncle and I were talking seri- 
ously of serious things — primarily the raising and training of hunt- 
ing spaniels, which to most of the men in our country was the most 
vital of topics. I was having sarsaparilla and my uncle a shot of 
rye, when the man came into the bar with the news that a bitch 
sired by Danny the Red was for sale. That would have been big 
news on any occasion. And now it was tremendous news indeed, 
for Danny the Red was dead — dead of an accident in the hunting 
field, which was a proper way for a dog of his ilk to die-^ — and this 
bitch was the last of his get. 

My uncle kept his voice calm as he asked questions, but I could 
feel the excitement in it. And no wonder. If you know anything 
of Springer Spaniels at all you will have heard of Danny the Red. 
There are those who still say he was the finest of them all when 
it came to real work in the field. And whether he was or whether 
he wasn't, today more good Springers go back to him, a long trail, 
than to any other sire. 

It seemed that Danny's owner had died shortly after his dog's 
death and left his widow with two bitches — the one sired by Danny, 
the other of different breeding. Like most men whose life was the 
breeding and training and hunting of sporting dogs, he had died 
poor. His widow was going away to relatives in the East and was 
selling her possessions. She was now staying with friends near town 
and had the dogs with her. 

My uncle looked down at me and his eyes were bright and 
eager. "About through, boy?" he asked. We finished our drinks 
together. "We'll go take a look," he said then. "Glad to have you 
along. You'll tell me your opinion of her." 

My uncle drove the trotter fast. And suddenly my feeling of 
joyous association was gone. I felt unsure and nervous. For all 

245 



246 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

the effort I gave to trying not to think of the hunting trip he 
and my father had taken me on last year, I thought of it the 
harder. It was a sore thing too seldom out of my mind. I had 
failed them, I knew, and miserably. I hadn't held up my end in 
anything — not in the shooting, the skinning and butchering of the 
deer, or the making of camp and the handling of the horses. They 
had been kind about itj especially my uncle, and their kindness had 
been like a blow in the face. For in their expression, in an occa- 
sional unguarded word between them, it was evident that I was a 
disappointment and might, indeed, lack the stuff of manhood en- 
tirely. I remembered how desperately I had wanted to explain, 
to say something compelling in extenuation, and there had been 
no words for it. You came through or you didn't. And now my 
uncle was taking me to see a hunting dog and pretending my 
opinion would be of value. But again, his kindness was a bitter, 
hurting thing. 

My uncle's brow was furrowed, his face serious and intent. 
"A bitch of Dan's," he said as if talking to himself, "could be 
worth a man's income for a year. Of course she may be no good — - 
Lord knows Danny sired some of that kind too. On the other 
hand . . ." 

Ten minutes later my uncle slapped my knee. "There's Har- 
gan's house, where she's staying. How'd you like to have a hand in 
the making of her, Bub?" 

"That'd be fine," I said in a half whisper, trying not to choke. 

"Well, don't go planning on anything yet. No doubt we're due 
for a disappointment — just a pure waste of time." But I knew by 
the note in his voice that he expected the opposite. 

The widow, a pale, ineffectual woman who obviously knew noth- 
ing of dogs, led us out to a small wire-enclosed yard at the back 
of the house, and there were the two bitches. They were real beau- 
ties for you, with bodies soft as velvet to your hand, yet flexing 
with good hard muscles beneath the skin. Great eyes, dark brown 
and deep. Feet padded well and too big for them, as they should 
be. And chests, even though they were little past the suckling stage, 
that told of strength and power. They were both black and white 
and alike as peas in a pod. 

Alike as peas in a pod to me, that is. But not to my uncle. 
For a few minutes he handled them both, then drew one bitch 
away. He ran his hand down her flanks and stood up. "That's 



Daughter of Danny the Red 247 

Danny's girl," he said, and so sure was the note in his voice that 
it was hke a man announcing his name. 

"There's tags in their collars my husband put there that tells 
which is which," the widow said. "I don't know one from the other. 
Only, my husband said one was much more valuable than the other." 

My uncle looked idly at the tag on the collar of the dog he had 
picked, then dropped it and smiled at me. "I was right," he said 
softly, and there was no vanity in his voice at all. "No man could 
fail to pick Dann^^'s girl from the other, could he. Bub?" 

"No, Uncle Ned." It was a great lie, for I couldn't have told 
had my life hung on my decision. 

"Of course not," he said. He slowly rubbed his chin with one 
hand and turned to the widow. "What is your price, ma'am?" 

She stared at him, and her voice faltered. "My husband said — 
he said the best one, whichever it is, should bring a hundred dollars. 
And the other fifty. He said a hundred dollars would be very 
cheap." 

My uncle stared back at her. He looked away — at me, at the 
ground, at the dogs, at the sky, then at the dogs again. "Too 
cheap," he said in a low voice. I knew what he was feeling — it 
would have been a good game to have made a hard bargain with a 
man who knew what he was doing. But this was obviously different. 
"I think — well, I will give you a hundred and fifty for her. Fifty 
now. The rest when I come for her, in about ten days. I have to 
be away that time. I suppose the people here will be willing that 
she stay. I'll pay them." 

Mrs. Byrnes was still thanking him, to my uncle's embarrass- 
ment, when a man's voice behind us said, "Good afternoon." 

We swung around. John Forest stood there, his hat pushed back 
from his forehead. I heard my uncle draw a quick breath. And 
my uncle's voice when he said, "Good day. Forest," was polite 
and level and colder than the Arctic. Forest and my uncle had 
always been enemies, for no reason I understood. They had ar- 
gued, and once they had fought. My uncle had said that John 
Forest was a no-good and a crook. And John Forest had said the 
time would come when the words would be returned with interest. 

Forest turned to the widow. "I'm told you have a bitch of 
Danny's here. I came to see her." 

My uncle answered for her. "I've bought her," he said. "But 
she's another good bitch to sell. She should get seventy-five for 



248 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

her and she'll make a mistake if she takes a cent less. And — don't 
touch my dog, Forest." 

My uncle strode away and I followed him. I said something 
about Forest maybe making trouble — after all he had money and 
was a power in the county. "He won't be making any trouble," 
my Uncle said. "Not unless he wants it back double, with in- 
terest. And now I got to hustle and raise that other hundred. I 
tell you, Bub, she'll make a dog like you never saw before. I could 
feel it, looking at her." 

My mother sniffed when she heard I'd been with Uncle Ned. 
She spoke to my father. "If he wasn't a relative, you'd never 
think of letting Joe near him." 

"He's my brother and he's the boy's uncle," my father said. The 
way he spoke, not looking her in the eye, I knew he half-agreed 
with her, and it made me sick sorrowful to see it. 

I didn't go to sleep right off that night. I kept thinking of how 
surely my uncle had told Danny's bitch from the other, when they 
looked to me like a pair from one litter. And I kept thinking along 
with that of how I'd fallen down last year. It was dark thinking, 
and just before I went off to sleep I wondered if there would ever 
be happiness in me again. 

I was working in the barn when Mr. Selfridge, our nearest 
neighbor, came by and asked where my father was. I could tell by 
the grave look on his fat, kindly face that he had bad news. I told 
him my father w^as in the house, then went slowly about my work 
again, wondering what it was he had come to say. Suddenly I was 
sure it had to do with my uncle. We had been expecting him for 
three days and I knew he would stop to see us before going to his 
own ranch. 

In half an hour Mr. Selfridge reappeared on the porch, my 
father with him. I saw my father shake his head, then shake hands 
awkwardly with Mr. Selfridge, using his left hand. He had broken 
his right arm a week before and it was still in a splint. 

Mr. Selfridge walked out to the road, got into his buggy and 
drove away. As soon as he had gone my father called, "Joe!" in 
a high-pitched angry voice, and I dropped my work like hot lead to 
leg it for the house. 

Both my parents were in the kitchen. My father's thin, leathery 
face was dark as a winter night, and even my mother had lost her 
usual optimistic expression. But she was tr^nng to cheer him up. 



Daughter of Danny the Red 249 

"After all," she was saying, "it isn't as if Ned had committed a 
murder. And there may be a mistake." 

My father turned on her furiously. "It may not be murder, but 
a man who'd steal a dog in this county — " he broke off and lifted 
his hand in a tired gesture. Then he swung on me. "We're going to 
town, now. Hitch up. With this blasted arm of mine I can't even 
drive. Get going." 

I said weakly, "What's wrong — is it about Uncle Ned?" 

My father's eyes burned hot. "Move!" he said. I moved. 

I was ready with the buggy in record time. I drove to the house 
and sat waiting, my nerves pumping at white heat. At last my 
father came out, pulling on his hat, my mother following. She 
handed up my jacket along with a package. 

"Be back as soon as we can," my father said shortly. "This 
may take a while. Don't worry — not that there's nothing to worry 
about." He kissed her quickly, in the half-embarrassed way he al- 
ways did, and climbed into the wagon, cursing his bad arm me- 
thodically and in sulphurous terms. He lit his pipe and settled back. 
"We're off," he said then. "And don't think because I can't drive 
you're going to do any showing off. I'm here to tell you what to do 
and when to do it and how, and you're listening and doing it." 

I was burning to know the story Mr. Self ridge had brought. But 
for a long time my father sat still, smoking in silence, staring 
straight ahead with his eyes half shut. Then at last he began to 
talk. It was curious talk, the sort of a monologue a man makes to 
himself in times of mental stress. I listened, still as a mouse. Little 
by little the situation became clear. 

My uncle had returned from his trip and gone to get his dog. 
According to his story there was a dog there all right, but it wasn't 
Danny's bitch. It was the other, which he learned had been bought 
by Forest. He'd had no proof, of course — the tags had disappeared. 
But he swore over and over again that he'd stake his neck on it. The 
upshot was that he'd gone to Forest's place, beaten him badly 
and taken the dog which Forest claimed. And now my uncle was in 
jail and Forest was prosecuting him for assault and battery, which 
was a small thing in our county, and for the deliberate theft of a 
valuable hunting dog, which was a very serious thing indeed. 

I listened. Finally I couldn't keep silent any longer. "Uncle Ned 
wouldn't steal a dog, and he couldn't make a mistake like that!" 
I cried. "Forest's the man they should have arrested." 



S50 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

My father laughed. It was a mirthless laugh. "Easy said. You 
prove it, boy. You prove it so a judge will believe you. You've got 
quite a job cut out for you. Particularly after some of those mis- 
takes Ned's made in the past. A man makes so many mistakes and 
then — well, you can hardly blame people if they come to thinking 
that maybe he's just a crook." 

My voice was shaking when I spoke again. "But look— r-Uncle 
Ned knew that dog. He had his choice. I was right with him. Even 
if he'd been wrong, there were tags to show which dog was which. 
If he'd wanted the other dog he could have had her. He'd paid his 
money down before Mr. Forest ever showed up." 

My father looked at me with sad impatience in his eyes. "Proves 
nothing. People would be prepared to believe Ned might make 
that kind of a mistake— that he'd picked the wrong one. And 
that when he'd found it out some Vv^ay he'd tried to repair it by 
beating up Forest and taking his dog. As for the tags — hell, they 
don't prove a thing. Anyway, they're gone, according to Selfridge." 

I stared at my father's profile, and it was hard and thin. A little 
muscle moved nervously in his cheek. And there was only one 
thing left to say. "He knew that dog soon as he saw her, even if the 
two of them were almost twins," I said. "All he had to do was run 
his hands over them and watch them move around a minute and 
it was all over. He said to me it was something anybody could see." 

"He was always a great talker," my father said. "Always a man 
to blow his own horn. And — did you see it too? What he saw?" 

I almost said "yes." But my father was looking at me and I 
knew I never could make him believe me. So I said weakly, "No, 
but I don't know about dogs the way Uncle Ned does." 

Already, I thought, Ned was half condemned in my father's 
mind. He didn't believe what I said — and no wonder, after the 
incompetent I'd proved myself when it had come to the show- 
down last year. There hadn't been a thing I'd been able to do the 
way they had wanted it. The worst thing of all was my failure to 
keep from blubbering when I'd cut myself with the axe and they 
were pouring iodine into the wound. I could remember yet the look 
in my father's eyes. And I could hear my uncle's flat voice saying, 
"After all, Fred, he's only fourteen." And my father's voice, 
"What's that got to do with it? What's fourteen or forty got to 
do with it?" 

I wanted to press right through to town but my father insisted 



Daughter of Danny the Red 251 

we stop to eat the lunch my mother had hastily put together for us. 
He sat with his back to a tree, eating awkwardly because of his 
stiff, useless arm, and his eyes were dark under a furrowed brow. 
I had a hunch what he was thinking. This might cost money, and 
money was a thing of which we had mighty little any more. And 
worse than that it would make a scandal that would speed like 
lightning through the county and tar all members of the family. 

My father finished his lunch and climbed into the buggy. I 
took my place in the driving seat. "A man could," my father said 
slowly, and when I looked at him I saw that his teeth were clenched 
hard on the pipe stem — "a man could talk to Forest and sort of 
appeal to his better nature, as they say. A man could do that if 
he had to." 

And I knew my father could perform no more bitter task. 

We came into town, a worried and woe-begone pair, and drove 
sedately down the dirt street. "We'll go to see Judge Tolliver," 
my father said. "Then we'll see Ned, and figure out what to do." 

Judge Tolliver was in his office working over some papers. He 
stood up and shook hands enthusiastically with my father — a little 
too enthusiastically, I thought. He spoke cheerfully to me and 
offered us chairs. He asked us our business, though obviously he 
knew perfectly well. 

"Not that I'm not always glad to see you, business or no busi- 
ness, George," he said, rubbing one side of his big red nose with a 
forefinger. "But this time I take it, it's a professional call." 

My father sat down in one of the old pine chairs. I leaned 
against the wall. "It's about Ned," my father said. 

Judge Tolliver looked at the ceiling. He and my father were old 
acquaintances and it was obvious that he was uncomfortable. "Yes," 
he said. "Regrettable. A damned shame. Frankly, I can't under- 
stand it. I tried to talk to Ned and all I got was curses and wild 
statements about what he was going to do to Forest." 

"I know," my father said. He stood up and walked the length 
of the room and back. "What kind of case has Forest got.?" 

"A good case," Judge Tolliver said quietly. "After all, Ned 
took the dog from him by force. I understand no one can tell one 
of these damned bitches apart. And that's hardly the point any- 
way. The burden of proof is on Ned. And if he can't furnish satis- 
factory proof — well, you know how people feel about such matters 
around here." 



S52 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Do you feel he's guilty, Judge ? That he decided he'd slipped in 
the first place picking a dog and tried to fix it up that crazy way?" 

The judge looked at the ceiling again and my father nodded. 
"We won't take any more of your time. Judge, thanks. We'll go 
see Ned now, if there's no objection." 

"None at all. You know the jailer." 

In the doorway my father paused. "When'll the case come up, 
Judge?" 

"Tomorrow at one. I'll grant a delay if you want." 

"Don't know what good that could do. Well, thanks, Judge." 

Ned was lying on the jail bunk, smoking cigarettes. He looked 
at us and gave no sign of recognition. 

"Ned," my father said, and his voice was hot and sharp. 

"So they called out the reserves," Ned said. "What the hell 
do you want?" 

"Did you steal Forest's dog?" 

Uncle Ned laughed loudly and I saw my father clench his fists. 

*^I asked a question and I expect an answer." My father's 
voice shook with anger. 

"Go ahead and expect," my uncle said. 

"I see," my father said softly. "I understand. I might have 
figured it. The truth is, I did, only I tried not to believe myself, 
my own reason. Just a damned dog thief!" 

Ned sat up and his chest swelled beneath his thin shirt. "You're 
my brother," he said. "But I've a mind to break your damned 
neck." 

My father made a contemptuous sound. He grabbed me hard 
by the arm, his fingers biting like steel bands into my flesh, and we 
started for the open cell door. I looked back and saw Ned lying 
down again, rolling a cigarette. 

My father did not speak as we walked down the street toward 
the hotel, and his manner when he demanded a room said plainer 
than words that he wanted no conversation from the clerk. I'd 
seen him in black moods before, but none so black as this. 

That night I was a long time going to sleep, and when I finally 
did I dreamed a dream more vivid than any I had ever known. It was 
a dream of two bitches, alike as peas in a pod so far as I could see, 
at work in the field. And I was trying desperately to find the 
difference that was between them, the difference I could not see, for 
my uncle's future depended upon it. He was accused of a great crime 



Daughter of Danny the Red 253 

and no one had faith in him save me. But no matter how hard I 
tried they still seemed alike as those two peas in a pod. Some 
times I felt for an instant that I saw something that set one apart 
from the other. But always, when I tried to pin it down it went 
away, leaving me lost and discouraged. 

The dream was fast in my mind when I wakened. My father was 
already up and it was then that I made the suggestion. He at once 
dismissed it as useless and I argued with him as I rarely had before. 
It could do no harm, I pointed out ; it might do good. And when he 
laughed ironically and asked me just how I expected it to do any- 
thing save make us ridiculous and emphasize the pathetic feebleness 
of our defense, I had to admit it was all a cloud of an idea. Butj 
still, I said — I wished he would. I wished it tremendously. 

"All right," he said finally. "I'll do it." He stood up and threw 
his cigar savagely away. "You go get your o\\ti breakfast — I don't 
want any. I'll take a little walk and do some thinking and I'll drop 
in on the Judge to ask him if your idea's all right with him." 

My father came back a little before noon and that black look 
was blacker still. The Judge, he said, had agreed to my request 
that the hearing be held out of doors, with the dogs on the scene. 

Promptly at one my father and I drove the two miles out of town 
to the Judge's little ranch. The Judge and Forest were already 
there ; Forest was smoking a big cigar at a fast rate and complain- 
ing about the idiocy of being dragged out here for an open-and- 
shut case. Ten minutes later a surrey turned in at the gate. My 
uncle was in it, sitting next to one of the deputies. Another deputy 
rode in the rear with the two dogs. 

I watched my uncle get slowly down from the seat and walk to- 
ward Forest and the Judge. He walked past my father and myself 
without a sign of recognition. He walked straight up to Forest and 
stopped a half-dozen feet away. He stood with his hands on hips, 
smiling a little, and stared at him. For a long time Forest stared 
back. Then he shrugged his shoulders and swung around to say 
something to the Judge. And my uncle's laugh, hard and bitter, 
rang out across the hot, level fields. 

The deputy took the dogs from the buggy and put them down, 
leashed together. I looked at them, and normally it would have been 
an ecstatic, exciting thing. Now it was anything but that. I looked 
them over carefully and I'd never seen two dogs more perfectly 
matched. There were minor differences of marking, but you had to 



25 4j Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

look hard to find them. I went to them and stroked their sleek 
bodies and they quivered with pleasure. I was hoping for some- 
thing harder than I'd ever hoped for anything before. Maybe it was 
hoping against hope, but I told myself that the daughter of Danny 
the Red wouldn't let us down. I told it to myself over and over 
again, fiercely. 

Then the Judge spoke and I turned about toward the little 
group of men. "This shouldn't take much time," he said slowly. 
"We all know w^hat the case is about, so there's no need for me 
to go into it. Mr. Forest, have you anything to say?" 

Forest took his time about lighting a fresh cigar. "Only this," 
he said, and his voice had a dark, hard note about it. "I bought a 
dog and paid good cash for her. This man Bristol came to my 
place and said I had stolen his dog. I told him he was crazy and 
he attacked me. And he took my dog. He claimed that I had taken 
the wrong one of the two Mrs. Byrnes had sold us. It's true he 
bought Danny's bitch, as he says, and that I bought the other. 
Maybe he decided afterwards the other was the better dog. I don't 
know, I do know what he did." 

"You don't deny that Mr. Bristol bought Danny's bitch?" 

"Of course not. Maybe he did not know that the best dogs will 
produce worthless dogs, sometimes." 

The Judge nodded. "You can identify your dog, Mr. Forest? 
Or shall I say, the dog you believed to be yours, the dog whose 
ownership Mr. Bristol contests?" 

Forest pointed to the dog at the left. "You'll notice she has more 
black on her chest than the other." 

The Judge turned to my uncle. "That is the dog you say is 
yours?" 

"Yes. I know that dog is mine." 

"At the time of purchase did you notice the slight difference 
in chest marking?" 

"No, but I know the dog. She's from Danny the Red." 

"Can you prove the dog is yours?" 

My uncle's jaw hardened to a tight, dark line. "I'm not a 
lawyer. But I know what I know. I was never fooled on a dog." 

The Judge drew a long breath and looked around. "Has any- 
one else anything to say?" 

There was a silence. When I spoke my voice sounded to me 



Daughter of Danny the Red 255 

like thunder and I flushed. "Judge TolHver," I said, "if you don't 
mind — it's an idea I got — would you have those dogs turned loose?" 

Forest shouted, "I object to this folderol! It's as open and shut 
a case as you ever saw. Let's put an end to it." 

The Judge faced him quietly. "I'll thank you not to interrupt, 
Mr. Forest." He turned back to me. "All right, I can't see where 
that can do any good but then it can do no damage either. The 
dogs are yours, boy." 

We were in fine pheasant cover, and I took the dogs from the 
deputy and led them away from the men toward some long rows of 
corn. They bounded against me, tangling in the double leash, ob- 
viously pleased at the chance to move about. A few feet from the 
corn I unsnapped the leash. They tore across country exhausting 
some of their boundless energy. Then they steadied down. 

I walked ahead and they walked with me, following erratic 
courses of their own. They were completely untrained, guided only 
by instinct, only by the deep, sure knowledge which was as much a 
part of them as their coats, and as natural and untaught. Sud- 
denly they both paused and stood with noses lifted, sniffing hard. 
There was something in the wind, their eyes said— there was some- 
thing there calling to them, something that went far back into the 
blackness of time and was filled with mysterious meaning and a 
great compulsion. What it was they did not know — ^they only 
knew that it was there, lovely and thrilling and demanding. It 
was there ahead somewhere, reaching out to them, touching them 
almost physically, the strongest thing they had ever known. 

They charged in, starting together, a pair of wild puppies, 
driven by instinct as by the lash to where the pheasants crouched. 
They both had the quality known as style, that which a dog is born 
with or goes his whole life without. And for me to say one was better 
or worse than the other would have been the same as saying that 
there is a difference between hats of the same make and quality and 
style ranged in a row in a showcase. I remember that my heart 
was pounding and that I stared until my eyeballs burned and hurt 
with strain, looking for something, anything, that might distinguish 
them. I was very close to admitting that it was not there, for me. 
Oh, it was there for others, all right, for men like my uncle. But 
not for me. And if that branded me as a failure, it was not a thing 
to occasion wonder. It was simply the hard, undeniable fact. 

Almost, I think, I turned away, heavy with shame for another 



256 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

failure, sick with m^^self for having made fools of us all, for having 
even further prejudiced an impossible case. But it was then that 
a cock pheasant rose, cackling hysterically, and flew away. One 
dog broke, going wild, raising her voice. And the other dog — well, 
the other dog followed the pheasant's course too, going fast and 
hard. There was a way she did it — a thing above and be3^ond the 
fact that she was untrained and a puppy. It was a vray that went 
back a long way to an ancient greatness. There are no precise 
words to describe it. And still, I knew then, it was a thing that 
any man who knew dogs could never miss. Suddenly I felt a great 
deal older, and a great deal wiser. 

Two more pheasant rose ; the field was rich with them. And out 
there was a good dog, that after proper training would honor any 
shoot. And out there was another dog that was the raw stuff of 
greatness. There was the young, small shadow of Danny the Red 
out there ; a hundred youngsters could have been working with her 
and knowing eyes would have followed none but her. 

Then I turned and the Judge was beside me, not five feet away. 
His eyes were bright and years had gone from his face. "Look," I 
said, "look at that dog." She was going on now, through the corn, 
taking it swiftly but thoroughly, covering it all as surely as a blan- 
ket covers a bed. "Look !" and now my voice was high-pitched, al- 
most a scream. "Danny the Red was like that — I only saw him 
once but I know now. There was a man showed me — a man who 
was handling him at the trial last year." And I said again at the 
end, there being nothing else to say, "Look!" 

The Judge smiled and breathed deeply. Back a little way For- 
est's voice said, "What damn foolishness is this?" and the Judge 
acted as if he had not heard it. The Judge said to me softl}^, "I re- 
member — it's almost like Danny over again. And which dog of the 
two is it?" 

I said, almost whispering, "I don't know." Then I raised my 
voice, appalled at my own conviction. "But it has to be the one 
with the blackest chest!" 

"Which one," the Judge muttered to himself and then the dog 
turned toward us. Her chest was very black. 

The Judge nodded to the deputy and he went after the dogs. 
The Judge and I walked back together to Forest, who stood a 
little away from my father and uncle. "You saw it, Mr. Forest," 
the Judge said. "The boy knew. It took him to make me see, even. 



Daufi^hter of Danny the Red 257 

and I've spent more of my life with Springers than a sane man 
would. I'm glad I'm not that sane, however, which is beside the 
point. She's Danny's girl." 

Forest's face was flushed. His cigar had gone out. He cleared 
his throat and made a wide gesture. "And you're a Judge !" he said. 
"A lawyer, and you call that evidence. I'd like to know what a 
higher court would say." 

"Oh, it would say it wasn't evidence," the Judge said. "If you 
want an appeal it's your right." 

Forest looked away and I knew what he w^as thinking. He might 
win a case on appeal where only the cold, unseeing letter of the 
law would apply, and it would be the emptiest victory any man ever 
won. For in the county the people wo.uld know and they would hate 
and despise him. They would know him foi> a dog thief and if 
the law^ backed up his theft it could not make him less the crim- 
inal in the eyes of those who knew the truth. 

The Judge's eyes were on Forest. "Well, Forest, what is your 
decision.^" 

Forest looked at the Judge, then turned his eyes for a fleeting 
moment on my uncle and my father. When he spoke his voice was 
faltering, an old man's voice. "A man can make a mistake," he said. 
"An honest mistake. Something happened to those tags — I don't 
know what, but that was the trouble. And if I'm wrong I'm the first 
to admit it and say I'm sorry. Anyone can make a mistake." He 
paused, his voice still on a rising note, and looked again around the 
little circle. The eyes that met his own were level and impassive. 
He made a little gesture with his left hand, turned and walked 
rapidly toward his buggy. 

The judge smiled, but there was no laughter in the eyes that 
followed Forest's progress across the field. "He forgot his dog," 
he said. "One of the boys can take her to his place. Anybody want a 
ride back with me.^ I'm going to tow^n and wind this case up offi- 
cially." 

"I guess Ned will be going with us," my father said, and left. 

The deputy brought the lovely bitch over and gave my uncle her 
lead. The three of us stood in a little circle looking down at her. 
I knelt and ran my hand gently along her back, and her warm wet 
tongue touched my cheek. 

"You know," my uncle said, "I've been thinking." 



258 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"About time," my father said sarcastically. "That'll be news to 
the whole family." 

"Shut up," my uncle said good-humor edly. "I've been thinking 
about two things. First, I guess I sort of owe the boy here an 
apology." 

"Me?" I said, startled. 

"Yes. I sort of had the idea you might turn out to be — ^well, not 
up to scratch the way I'd like. Shows how wrong a man can be. I 
know better now, and so does your father." 

Hot blood surged up into my face, and I felt a happiness greater 
than I'd known in all my life. 

"And the second thing I've been thinking. Well — I haven't the 
time a man should give to a dog like this. I've got an awful lot of 
work piled up at the place. I'd like to see her belong to a man who'd 
really bring her up the way she deserves." 

I felt suddenly as if I'd been slapped hard. "You mean — you 
are going to sell her?" 

My uncle shook his head. "Couldn't do that. The truth is, I was 
thinking — oh, hell — " he thrust the lead toward me. "Take her. 
And you make her into the best pheasant dog this county ever saw 
or I'll skin you alive." 

I looked at him with unbelieving eyes. I tried to speak and 
failed, I said feebly, "Gee- — thanks — " 

"Never mind," he barked. "My return will be what you make of 
her. And remember what I said I'd do if you let us down, me and 
her. And never think I don't mean it." 



The Legless Bulljighter 

ty Marcos A. Spinelli 



Almirante ANTONIO CASSADO was a Portuguese giant who had come 
into Matto Grosso to try his fortune in the diamond fields of Sao 
Pedro. But fortune never quite smiled fully upon him. It continued 
to grin at him from one corner of its mouth. That was why the 
giant's honesty rebelled one day and he stole and hid a rather large 
diamond under his tongue. 

His partners disliked his action. And the giant had to knife 
his way through them all to prevent them from chopping off his 
left ear: it being the preliminary punishment meted out to a first 
offender in the diamond fields in Matto Grosso. 

He fled into the jungle. But as he was still being pursued he 
crossed the border and took refuge in El Chaco in the Indios terri- 
tory. Here his mind found peace and his left ear went on flapping 
beside his head. 

Now the virgins of the tribe liked him and graciously fought 
among themselves for the privilege of sharing his hammock. But 
the giant, true to his Christian upbringing, selected Konoru from 
among the contestants and made her his lawful woman. Later he fell 
in love with her. For Konoru was a thoughtful fourteen-year-old 
woman with a glistening rubber-like body and a soothing giggle. In 
due time Jose Olimpo Cassado was born. He first saw light of the 
moon one night right on the Bolivian-Brazilian border. For here it 
was that Konoru was caught with sudden labor pains so severe that 
she fell off her mule and gave birth to him. This fact accomplished, 
the giant gathered mother and newborn in his arms, hoisted himself 
into the saddle and rode on deeper into Brazil. 

From his father Jose inherited abnormally large hands and 
shoulders. From his giggling little mother he stole a tendency to 
make his what was someone else's. And so by the time he was ten 
his halfbreed body was twenty years strong and already crisscrossed 
by countless scars inflicted upon him by his victims. But whipping, 
kicking, blows with machete flats only stirred his indignation and 
sharpened his tendency. 

'Ai," he complained to his little mother as she nursed his cuts 

259 



(( 



260 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

after a beating, "those sons of juiceless bitches have done this to 



me." 



?5 



"Ai, my son.' 

At twelve he fell in love with a two-year-old mule and courted 
her for months. But besides caressing her and babytalking to her 
he was unable to persuade her to follow him quietly. The mule's 
foam-white head and deep chest and steely legs haunted and ruined 
his sleep. 

"Ai, senhora," he moaned broken-hearted to his little mother, 
"what can I do?" 

She sighed, and thought a while. 

"Ai, son," she said, "try under the moon what you fail to do 
under the sun, w^hat say.^" 

"Ai!" 

The sun dived beyond the serra and night rushed in without 
discernible transition. Jose sneaked into the corral where the mule 
was sleeping, stroked her to consciousness, baby-talked to her, 
slipped the lasso around her neck and — two shots rang out and two 
bullets whispered hurriedly past his ear to run for his life. 

"Ai, senhora, a son of a juiceless bitch has done this to me," 
he said dejectedly as his mother sucked his bullet-clipped ear. 

"Ai, my son, be patient," she consoled him. "You are too young, 
yet, I think." 

"Ai." 

He grew up so fast and so much that at fourteen he had the 
hands and shoulders of his gigantic father whom he despised as 
much as he loved his mother for whom he faced any risk and rode 
any distance so long as he could bring her a token of his filial love. 
Light-heartedly he would ride weeks on end through the jungle to 
the mission to steal holy pictures and candles — particularly colored 
candles with which she loved to grease her hair. And once, in ex- 
change for a bullet in the thigh, he brought her a beautiful poncho 
he had gently jerked away from under a sleeping wayfarer. 

But the time came when his mother's giggle vanished and her 
childish Indian face was filled w^ith darkest apprehension : for some 
time now he hadn't brought her anything. Yet he had been to a fair 
and twice to the mission. Apparently he preferred to spend his time 
in restless meditation as though he were arguing with himself as to 
his future. 



The Legless Bullfighter 261 

"Ai," she sighed, "why have you stopped being a good son to 
me?" 

^'Ai, senhora, I've been thinking, I think. I can't be bothered 
with small things no more. I am a man now. I have decided to be a 
horse trader, what say?" 

"Ai," she cried happily, and once again the vanished giggle 
returned to light her face. 

And so Jose became a horse thief. 

At sixteen Jose was already a notoriously lucky horse thief and 
still a whole half breed. Then, overnight, he became a half man : a 
man without legs. For he made the unpardonable mistake of lassoing 
a colt in the presence of its mother. She neighed the alarm — a swarm 
of bullets answered her call — Jose stumbled away with his legs shot 
to pieces. 

A sad sight was he squatting in front of his waddle-house under 
the sun as the mosquitoes attacked his still bleeding bare stumps 
wrapped up in strips of his own flesh, his fever-enameled eyes deep 
and stony in his pain-welted face as his powerful hands fingered the 
earth feelinglessly. Beside him squatted his little mother, silent and 
desolate, sharing his dishonor. 

For many days he lay under the sun stupefied with fever. And 
for many nights he fought and shouted deliriously in his mother's 
thin arms as the underbrush creatures kept respectful vigil outside 
the camp fires. As she rocked his huge limp half body she sang 
Indian prayers. She sang white men's prayers. She sang her own 
songs. She sang with her breast and arms on fire because his body 
was burning with malignant fever. And so throughout the nights 
she sang her son alive. She sang death away. But one night death 
caught her mute and sneaked into her son. Feeling his head slump 
over her shoulder and his body grow cold in her arms she turned 
him moonward, fanned the fire around him, and began to scream 
and pray and dance death out of her son's body. 

The cauterizations healed. His eyes lost their painted and stony 
look and suffering relented its grip from his face. Soon his powerful 
hands were busy weaving reins, lassos, whips. And smilingly he 
began to trapeze his half body on his strong arms as he moved about. 
Helped by his little mother he began his education all over again. 
Again he learned how to keep the saddle. And presently he was 
riding as well as ever. But his humiliation knew no limit when he 
was forced to ask someone to help him into the saddle. Rather than 



263 , Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

do that, however, he would lead the horse to a hogback or to an ant- 
mound or between deep furrows and thus gain the saddle — unaided. 

One day the sun rose to find his little mother not by his side. 
A few weeks later she reappeared riding a horse whose mane almost 
touched the ground. She was thinner and looked smaller. She had 
the face of an old woman. But now again she giggled happily. He 
giggled back, understandingly. He f rogleaped to the horse, grabbed 
the mane and catapulted himself into the saddle — unaided, before 
his neighbors' curious eyes. 

"Ai, senhora," he said, "I want live no longer w^here my legs are 
buried. I go, senhora. Adeus." 

"Adeus, meu filho." 

He slapped the horse's ears and galloped away deeper into the 
jungle. He left his mother for mother jungle. He wanted to free 
himself from the searching and questioning eyes of those who had 
seen him helpless and humiliated. Of those who had ceased respect- 
ing him, that is ceased fearing him. It was the fear of not being 
feared that forced him to desert his little mother and hide in the 
bosom of the jungle where, free from the persecution of human eye, 
he patiently and painfully trained his arms to take the place of his 
legs and where he developed a thousand fighting tricks which made 
him a much more dangerous man than he had hitherto been. 

A jungle- faced, gorilla-bodied man was Jose when several years 
later he galloped into the settlement of Capin Branco one day at 
sunset. Across his powerful sweating bare chest lay his rifle, and 
a machete with a monkey tail at the handle kept guard on his back. 
His revolver butt shone white against his halfbreed belly. Perched 
in the saddle a trifle backward, his empty trouserlegs flapping 
against the horse's flanks like wings, he shouted savagely as he 
galloped around the square. 

Presently he reined in before a hut and asked for food. He was 
invited to come in. He filled himself to the throat and drank himself 
into seeing flames leaping before his eyes. Thus charged he was 
about to frog-leap out of the hut when the host asked him to pay 
for what he had consumed. Pay? Whence he came nobody paid for 
anything. Money? He had no money. The host reached for . . . 
Jose dropped on his back and opened fire. Then he hurled himself 
out of the hut. With hands and teeth he hoisted himself into the 
saddle and, his brain still wandering through alcoholic infernos 
and his blood coursing in his veins like a mouse under a carpet, he 






The Legless Bullfighter 263 

roamed in and out of the settlement roaring for a mate till he found 
and fell upon her from the saddle. , 
, "Ay Ay, woman, what say?" 

"Ay, man !" 

He settled in Capin Branco. He made a living by selling whips 
and lassos and reins and horse-girths which he himself wove, and by 
closing horse deals. His workmanship w^as good, his price to the 
customers' liking, his knowledge of horses reliable, and he himself 
a likable ruffian. He might have spent his life in peace, enjoying 
everybody's fear and respect, had he not fallen in love with Perdida. 

She was a beautiful mulatto. An independent spitfire who lived 
alone in a hut on the outskirt of the settlement. She made a living by 
weaving hammocks which she sold at the fairs. He wanted her and 
told her so — she called him a legless to his face and he — he mar- 
veled why he hadn't killed her. He trailed her— she evaded him — till 
one day he finally cornered her. His whip swished in the air, coiled 
around her ankles, brought her dow^n — he knocked the knife out of 
her hand and indifferent to her struggle and deaf to her shouts w^as 
about to take her when the hoop of a lasso haloed his head for a 
second and then closed around his neck. Lying on his back within a 
fence of horses' hoofs and surrounded by grinning horsemen he gave 
no sign of life till he felt his strength come back to him then — rolling 
on his back he emptied his revolver and rifle point-blank into his 
executioners. A cloudburst of fire rained upon him. Turning on his 
belly he unsheathed his machete and scythed down as many ankles as 
came within his reach. He carved his way to his horse, catapulted 
himself into the saddle and, streaming with blood, galloped away — 

Sunrises and sunsets came up and went down through rainy 
and dry reasons as life in the jungle flowed on in a turbulent torrent 
of monotony. Playing hide-and-seek with beasts and men and bullets 
alike Jose galloped through Matto Grosso. And the four \sands 
never ceased carrying the new^s of his feats to every hut in and out 
of men's way. Jose the Legless had entered his name in blood in the 
legend-steeped ledger of the Matto Grossonee jungle. 

Under the cleft-mouthed sun pouring molten light on the red- 
dusty road which crossed Matto Grosso Jose was riding to Las 
Vargen to the fair — or rather to the bullfighting which would close 
the festivities. His legless linen trouserlegs waved at the sides of the 
horse like white wdngs, and his huge brimmed hat slapped on the 
back of his head threw a disk-shaped shadow on his gorilla-sloping 



^6^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

shoulders. Lax in the saddle, leaning a trifle backward, hands to- 
gether holding the reins against his chest, and elbows flapping out- 
side, he sang in time to the horse's lope. 

"Vamos morena vamos, 
Vamos embora, 
Vamos para o sertao 
Vamos menu coracao ..." 



As he sang his insulting black eyes surveyed lazily the compact 
green growth of the jungle pressing against the borders of tlie 
deserted and curvy road. Through the quivering molten light half 
naked men and women squatting on the thresholds of their waddle- 
houses looked like animated studies in mud — dried up, cracked mud. 
And through their parched lips a thread-like voice exchanged salu- 
tations with the rider. 

"Bon dia, amigo, se Deus quizer." 

"Good day, friends, if God wishes," Jose boomed in response. 
He rode on. 

Pie urged Bonito to a gallop. And both rider and mount became 
one as they raced before a pursuing cloud of red dust. 

He galloped into the fair grounds and rode his horse through 
crowds clustered before the stalls. As people jumped aside he de- 
luged them with his roaring laughter. Men fingered their weapons, 
women swore at him, girls screamed. The children clapped their 
hands. 

"Eiiiiii, Jose amigo," they shouted. 

"Ay, mens amighinhos, make way." 

Shouting and laughing his way clear Jose rode to the big wall- 
less hut on the farthest corner of the square. Here he leisurely 
slipped down from the saddle and swung his half body under the 
inverted V-shaped roof of the hut. 

Accordions and guitars wxre playing a maxixe. Women and 
men and children dressed in their brightest holiday costumes squat- 
ted on the ground eating and drinking and smoking. In a clear 
space fenced with saddles and weapons and cooking-gear and 
wonder-eyed babies a dozen couples were dancing — perspiration- 
beaded faces, glowing eyes, sparkling teeth, taut bodies. 

Jose paused for a moment to watch them and to spit a few salty 
remarks to some of the women, and then continued to that corner of 



The Legless Bullfighter 265 

the hut where a long and wide board on two packmule saddles served 
as a bar. 

He gulped down his first drink. And his second. His third one 
he began to sip, as his insulting eyes roamed about. Suddenly his 
nostrils quivered and his eyes narrowed, his teeth snapped close to- 
gether and his chin stuck out like a mule's kick. He slipped his knife 
from his back to his belly-button, handle downward, ready for battle. 

"A bottle of aguardiente," he called without turning his head. 
He pushed it into his shirt and, eyes spearing ahead, he trapezed 
himself through the crowd to a tough looking bunch of itinerant 
bullfighters entertaining a woman : Perdida ! 

"A}^, morena malvada," he whined half threateningly as his 
elbows spread out and he flapped beside her. 

"Ay, caboco malvado," she said in a high-pitched voice that 
shook with restlessness. 

He ignored the bullfighters. 

^'Riding alone .^" he asked. 

"No. Riding w^ith men." 

He bared his teeth good-naturedly. "Men?" And this time his 
insulting eyes picked up and pricked the bullfighters one by one. 

The bullfighters' eyes pricked back. 

"Drink," Jose said pushing the bottle under her nose. 

"I don't drink your drinks." 

"Whose drinks are you drinking today .^ Boiadeirosf He chewed 
the word convhand as if it were a stringy piece of meat. He tore at 
it w^ith all his contempt. He slobbered over it. 

"A 3^, horse rider," said one of the bullfighters intentionally 
fanning the simmering quarrel. "How long does a mare's pregnancy 
last?" 

Again Jose bared his teeth. "It all depends, amigo cowhand," he 
whined innocently. "It all depends whether it is boy or stallion who 
mounts her. If it is a boy, a bullfighter is born, what say?" 

"A whole bullfighter?" 

Jose snarled, grinned, moved about — racking his brain for an 
answer, for an answer he must give or fight or be shamed before 
the watching Perdida. 

"Drink," he snarled pushing the bottle under the bullfighter's 
nose. "Drink, amigo cowhand. A man never refuses a drink. If he 
docs — he's no man, what say?" 

The bullfighter looked at him motionlessly. 



266 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"What say?" 

"I drink.'' 

"Ay." 

But the bullfighter also had no intention of being shamed before 
a woman. 

"Ay, horse rider, have you ever looked into the eyes of a bull 
from behind a red cape?" he said as his eyes stuck to Jose's waist 
line. 

"No," Jose snapped back. "I don't like the eyes of a bull. I 
like to look into men's left eyes before shooting them out their heads, 
what say?" 

"Ay," the bullfighter said, "that's nothing — " 

"That's nothing," Perdida shouted looking at Jose. "That's 
nothing — even a legless can do that, what say?" 

Jose turned to tlie bullfighters. 

"They tell me that Pinto the bull is a killer, is that true?" 

"It is," they boasted in unison. 

He turned to Perdida then and, looking at her with the steady 
eyes of the dead, he said, "What will you give me if I look into 
Pinto's eyes from behind a red cape?" 

"Anything — anything, you legless half breed. Anything, for he'll 
gore you through and through, you legless half breed." 

"If I look into Pinto's eyes tomorrow afternoon will you come 
with me dog-like?" 

She stared back at him, eyes glowing sullenly with challenge, 
respect and hatred, and passion. 

"I will. I'll come with you dog-like, you damned legless half- 
breed. I'll come." 

"Bon," Jose said quietly. 

Again he turned to the bullfighters. 

"I'll look into Pinto's eyes before you espada him tomorrow, 
what say?" 

The bullfighters grinned contemptuously. 

"Tomorrow?" 

"Tomorrow." 

"In the ring?" 

"In the ring." 

"But how?" 

"Wait till tomorrow." 

Perdida's cobra-like stare was provoking him. But he refused 



The Legless Bullfighter 267 

to meet the challenge now. She began to breathe hard through her 
nose and, to hide her storming inside, she burst out in strident 
laughter. 

In death-like composure he waited for her to be finished with 
her fit. And then he said, "Have your saddlebag ready for tomorrow 
afternoon. We ride on soon after I have looked into Pinto's eyes, 
what say?" 

She stared at him — 

Night came and the jungle w^as studded with camp-fires around 
which people ate and drank, danced and quarreled, and made love. 
Dawn: a world teeming with unconscious life. Then the sun rose 
and rode to midday. And there it paused implacably beating down 
on the crowded bullring. Whenever bull or fighter succumbed to 
the other's blow the crowd erupted deliriously. 

Manco had killed one bull. One bull had gored Ignacio. The 
crowd was drunk with life and death when Jose riding Benito 
pranced into the ring. Beside Jose on foot ran an Indian boy carry- 
ing a wooden stool about fifteen inches high. He placed it in the 
center of the ring. 

Waving his hand and grinning coldly Jose trotted around the 
ring a few times, his empty trouserlegs streaming beside the horse's 
flanks. The crowd unleashed their emotion. It rose skyward like a 
bursting rocket. Motionless Perdida sat in the front row. Unblink- 
ingly she met Jose's eyes. He led the horse to the center of the ring, 
stopped and saluted, slipped to the ground, and trapezed himself 
onto the stool. He held a short conversation with the Indian boy 
who kept nodding his head vigorously till Jose dismissed him. 

Calmly Jose unrolled a red kerchief from his waist and waved 
it to the crowd — 

"Pronto?" called a bullfighter from the bull's pit. 

"Vamos." 

Like a hurricane Pinto charged into the ring, keeping to his 
right till, skidding TNiith his foreleg, he swerved to the left and fol- 
lowed his own impulse till he came to an inquiring stop. His great 
head down, the hump of his muscles on his neck throbbing violently, 
he hoofed the ground, quivering, — quivering, trembling and 
shaking. 

Jose rose the red kerchief to his eyes and called to the bull — the 
bull raised his head and his body began to tremble as if shocked 
by electricity. Puffing he began to back up very very slowly as if 



268 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

pushed back by a stronger power than himself till, leaving the 
ground for a second, he snorted and charged in a cloud of red dust. 
In an instant his spiky horns disappeared through the kerchief — 
but when his head came up again Jose was solidly sitting between his 
horns. Mystified, the bull began shaking his head, so violently that 
he fell to his fore-knees. But soon he stood again and, foaming, 
started out on a blind gallop through the ring. 

Perdida sat motionlessly. 

As the bull came flying beside the ring-fence Jose shouted, 
"Vamos, meninho." 

Immediately the Indian boy's head peeped over the fence. He 
nodded and disappeared. And reappeared holding a red cape against 
the fence. The bull saw it and charged it — the impact was terrific. 
The crash filled the air. Stunned the bull fell back to his hindlegs. 
For a second Jose was seen sailing over the fence and smoothly fall 
into scores of expectant arms — 

Her saddlebag slung over her shoulder Perdida was waiting for 
Jose where the road ended and the jungle began. He came trotting 
to her leisurely. He reined in beside her. Their eyes met. His glowed. 
Hers narrowed. Suddenly he bent do^vn and stuck his hand between 
her breasts. Grinning contemptuously he looked at the knife he had 
taken from her. And threw it away. Without word he then grabbed 
her by the wrists and hoisted her up behind him. He shook the reins. 
The horse moved on. They entered the jungle. Again he reined in, 
and turned back in the saddle. Their eyes met. His were calm, devoid 
of any malice or passion. They shone honestly in his scarred half- 
breed face. Hers were burning. 

"What say?" she hissed. 

He shook his head. 

"Go your way," he said calmly. "I don't want you — no, not 
dog-like. Go." 

Fire left her eyes and blood her face. She couldn't stand his 
honest eyes. She bowed her head. She listened to her feelings. She 
hated him. She loved him. She despised him. She wanted him. He 
was a bully. He was a good man. He was a man. 

"Ride on," she said quietly. "I'll follow you woman-like." 



Money on JSlorgan 

ty RoLert Westerty 



We stood around behind the pits, Danny and I, waiting for Mor- 
gan to arrive. It was hot, and the sun bounced off the boards and 
the white paint and made us sizzle. I could feel the sweat running 
coldl}^ down my back between my shoulder blades. 

Danny looked at his watch. "He'll have to be here soon," he 
said. "He's late anyway." 

"Maybe he knows what he's doing," I said. "Morgan's no fool." 

Danny just looked at me. "Think so.?" he said. "I hope you're 
right." 

I began looking round. Most of the other machines were being 
wheeled out onto the track now, and the Stands were nearly filled up. 
They would be starting the first race in just ten minutes, and Mor- 
gan was cutting it fine. 

I watched the bo3^s in the next pit. They had the motor started 
and were blipping it up. The exhaust note was harsh, like tearing 
calico. And the air filled with the stinking blue smoke that went 
up your nose and into your mouth until you could taste it. The 
driver was sitting on the edge of the pit swinging his legs. He was a 
little, Italian-looking man with enormous hands. 

Danny tapped me on the arm. "Here he is," he said. "Here's 
Morgan." 

I looked round. Morgan was walking along behind the pits 
towards us. He had his overalls on and was doing up the belt round 
his waist. He grinned at me, and then looked at Danny. Looking 
at me seemed to be the best. 

"Where you been.?" Danny said. "What you think you're 
doing?" 

Morgan tried to look surprised. He was a little guy, and very 
tough. His face was always brown, and his hair so black it was nearly 
blue. A lot of people thought he was colored, but he wasn't. They 
said that, with Patello, he was the best driver in the country. 

"Listen; you got to watch yourself, Morgan," Danny said. 
"We're not paying you money to kick around. Where you been.?" 

269 



270 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Morgan scowled. "I got held up coming out," he said. *'I left 
in plenty of time. You don't need ever to worry about me, anyway." 

"Oh, we don't.? Well, that's fine," Danny said. "Listen; you 
better slow down on your night life, kid. The Boss don't like you 
playing around the w^ay you do, see.? You get good money, and you 
got to earn it the way we like." 

"And when we say 1 :80 at the Track, we mean just that, see 
kid.?" I said. 

Morgan grinned. He never minded me. 

The mechanics were pushing up our car now, and we turned 
to look at it. It was long and slim, with black paint and silver wheels. 
It looked pretty good in the sunshine, and pretty wicked. 

"How's it going now.?" Danny asked Morgan. 

Morgan looked sideways at him. "Going okay. We got that 
oiling-breather working properly now," he said. 

"Good. We can't afford another slip-up," Danny said. "Not 
today." 

"Going to win it, kid.?" I said. 

Morgan grinned. "Sure. I'll win it. Patello's going well, though." 

"How well.?" Danny said. "We don't want no mistakes, I told 
you." 

"You don't have to worry," Morgan said. "I'll win it!" 

We watched him put on his helmet and climb into the seat. 
When the mechanic was in there with him they began talking and 
not looking at us any longer. He didn't even answer when I shouted 
good-luck at him. 

"Come on," Danny said. "We better go." 

We pushed through the crowd and went up the stairs into the 
Stand. There was a lot of people, and more noise. 

We had to search a bit until we found the Boss, and by the time 
we were in the seats there wasn't long to go. 

The Boss was sitting beside a little guy in a grey suit and hat. 
He introduced the man as Mr. Rogers. 

"Hullo, Mister Rogers," I said. "Glad to know you." 

Rogers just nodded. He was a thin little weasel with a wrinkled 
face, and thick glasses. He had a diamond pin in his tie. 

"What the hell was Morgan doing.?" the Boss asked Danny. 

"Said he was held up," Danny said. "I guess he's just careless." 

"He say anything about the race to you .?" the Boss asked me. 

"Sure he did. Says he'll win it. Says it's in the bag," I said. 



il 



Money on Morgan 271 

The Boss nodded. "Fine," he said. "I thought I got it weighed 
up. He ought to win it, all right. That's a swell bus he's driving." 

"There's Patello, though," Danny said. "Morgan says he's 
going well." 

"Yeah, I don't like Patello," the Boss said slowly. "I don't like 
him. But I don't think he'll do it today. Reilly says our car's per-* 
feet." 

Rogers tapped my arm. "What's all this?" he said. "Your boy 
think he'll win?" 

I nodded. "Sure. He'll win it. It's in the bag." 

The Boss was listening to what we were saying. "Mr. Rogers is 
talking about buying a share in the car," he said. "But he wants to 
see today's clean-up first," he said, and we laughed, watching 
Rogers' face. Rogers didn't laugh. 

The bell was going now, and the cars were wheeled out into line. 
There were six of them. King was in One; Jimmy Klein in Two; 
Patello in Three; Morgan in Four. On the outside were two boys 
from the other coast. They were boys we didn't know much about. 
Against the bright red of Patello's car, our crate's black and silver 
looked pretty good. 

The crowd gave the boys quite a hand when they were lined up. 
There must have been fifteen thousand people there. It was so hot 
that most of them had their coats off, making a blur of white all 
round the Track. 

"What are they betting our boy?" the Boss asked. 

"Two's," Danny said. "It'll shorten." 

"Not it," Rogers said. "Patello's carrying all the clever money." 

The Boss smiled. "We'll soon see whose is the clever money," he 
said. "Just you wait." 

Rogers shrugged his thin shoulders. "Hope you're right," he 
said. "I got three hundred on, and I don't like losing," he said. 

Danny nudged the Boss. "They're away now," he said. 

We all sat up, watching them. They were rolling round the 
Track, keeping roughly in line. It was to be a rolling start. The 
race was over Ten Laps. 

They kept quite steady in line, the whole six of them. Quite 
steady. And we watched silently until the}'^ came down the straight- 
away where the Starter was waiting for them. 

The flag dropped first time, and they were off. 

Danny pulled his hat off, and yelled. "He's there !" he yelled out. 



^72 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

All around us in the Stand people were shouting, but Danny's voice 
is something awful and you could hear him way above the din. 

The cars went down the straight and into the first turn. Morgan 
was there, about two lengths up on Patello. He went wide into the 
turn, and then dived down. His tail wagged a bit, and the back 
wheels cut into the dirt. Halfway round he had cut across the 
others and was on the inside for the back straight. And as they came 
past the Stands at the end of the lap he was four lengths clear. 

I looked at the Boss. But he was a dead-pan, and showed noth- 
ing. Rogers was leaning forward in his seat. Danny was glaring 
do\Mi at the Track like a crazy man. He bet very heavy, Danny did 
— sometimes too heavy, and he was a tough loser. 

As the cars went onto the curve again, Patello moved up a bit, 
and on the back straight he passed Morgan and got in front. They 
came past the stands at the end of that lap, and Patello was still 
leading. 

The crowd was going crazy the whole time. In the next five laps 
it was Patello ; Morgan ; Patello ; Morgan ; Patello. There weren't 
two lengths in it the whole way. Patello's crate was very fast and 
always pulled out on the straights but on every curve Morgan 
caught him. He would go in low, pushing his tail up a bit, cutting 
a great fan of dirt from his back wheels the whole way round as he 
fought the skid. The strain on his wrists must have been appalling, 
but he seemed to be holding the crate to an inch all the time. I never 
saw it done better. 

When they came past us for the eighth time, Morgan was just 
in front. He was sitting bolt upright in the seat, his arms almost 
stiffly held out in front of him holding the wheel. Reilly, who was 
there with him, didn't look as if he thought it were funny in any 
way at all, but Morgan was grinning. 

"By God ! that boy's all right," Rogers said. "I never seen this 
stuff done better by anyone." 

The Boss didn't say anything. His fist was punching up and 
down on his knee the whole time, and I knew he was getting worried. 
He had a lot of money on Morgan. 

On the back stretch Patello gave it the gun and took the lead 
again. He was a fine driver, and doing all he knew. The rest of the 
field was nowhere, and one of the boys from the other coast had 
dropped out. 

They went into the last lap. 



IVIoney on Morgan 273 

In front of our Pit one of the mechanics was waving a big board 
at Morgan, dancing up and down at the edge of the track. Reilly 
waved his arm as he went past, but Morgan took no notice. Patello 
was still in front, about four lengths up. 

They went round the curve nose to tail, Morgan higher up 
than usual. Half-way round Morgan dived down and got clear. 
Patello wagged a bit, and on the back stretch Morgan was in front 
of him, going like a scalded dog. His exhaust note seemed half-a-tone 
higher. 

They went into the last curve almost together, and the whole 
crowd stood up screaming at them. Patello had let Morgan get out- 
side him for the first time, and didn't seem to like taking it low. They 
went up together, and it looked certain they must touch. But some- 
how Morgan kept clear, and kept his head. He dived off the bank 
onto the straightaway leading by a length — just like in the movies. 

"He'll do it," I yelled out. "He'll do it ... do it .. . Look! 
Look! Look!" 

Danny threw his hat right in the air and grabbed the Boss 
by the arm. "He's done it. He's won," he said. 

The cars roared over the line almost together. It was a lulu, as 
tight a finish as you could want to see. 

I looked sideways at the Boss for a second, but he had jumped 
up, his eyes staring. Down there at the end of the straightaway peo- 
ple had started to scream. 

Morgan and Patello were right close together, and Morgan was 
still on the outside, where the other boy liked to be. They were 
slowing now, but still moving plenty fast as they reached the curve. 

As he ran up towards the wall, Morgan looked round. Patello 
was rattled, and sliding a bit, and his front wheel touched Morgan's. 
Then things happened. 

They swung apart, bouncing like golf balls. Patello slewed round 
tAvice, missing the rest of the cars by inches and a miracle. He 
lurched down to the inside edge, banged into the kerb, and stopped 
dead. But Morgan went on up and hit the wall. His off-side front 
wheel snapped off almost at once, and the car skidded round as the 
axle dropped. Reilly kept down and hung on tight, and though 
Morgan was flung out his leg got caught somehow. And he got 
dragged. He got dragged for thirty yards, until the crate turned 
over. Reilly was thrown clear and wasn't hurt, but when the thing 
caught fire Morgan couldn't get free. He never had a chance, I tell 



274 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

you. He never had a chance. Maybe you never saw a man die that 
way. xVnd, if you haven't, you can believe me you don't w^ant to. 
Because it isn't pretty. 

We all stood there watching it, and we could do nothing. Every- 
one was screaming and yelling, and the black smoke and the stink 
poured across the whole place, like a fog. 

And as I stood there I thought about young Morgan; about 
the way he drove, sitting upright in the car; the way he grinned 
when he spoke to me, never minding what I said. He was about 
twenty-three years old. It was pretty terrible to think about it, be- 
cause, goddam it, he was only a kid . . . 

When we went back to Town in the Boss's big Buick Danny 
drove, and I sat in the back with the Boss. He was slouched down 
in the corner of the seat, staring out the window. And we went a 
long way without anybody speaking a word. 

Then I said : "It's no good worrying. Boss. I know how you feel. 
So does Danny. It was a God-awful thing to happen. We all know 
that. But it's no good going on thinking about it." 

He turned his head and just looked at me. Then he laughed in 
a sour sort of way. 

"Sure, sure," he said. "I don't have to worry. Oh no! Rogers 
scrams off with his offer- — thafs nothing ! You're telling me it was a 
God-awful thing to happen! Do you think I'm crazy? Why, that 
car set me back ten thousand dollars — and what's it now? A heap 
of burned-out junk. And so I don^t have to go on thinking about 
it, eh?" he said. "Ten thousand bucks — and a dead loss! What's 
the matter with you guys? Can't you imagine how I feeW 



After the Altitude Record 

ty Lion Feucntwan^er 



At 10:30 a.m., July 2nd — an extremely hot day — Lieutenant 
Victor Crecy took off in an attempt to break the world's altitude 
record of 11,702 meters. The maximum altitude attainable for air- 
planes had been mathematically computed. But no one knew how 
high the human body could go with physiological safety. Man rep- 
resented an unknown quantity, and despite many laboratory experi- 
ments, no reliable equation had been worked out. 

Slowly Lieutenant Crecy's plane, Marie Lemaire (S A III 26), 
spiraled upwards into the rarefied upper strata of the atmosphere, a 
windy, tempestuous region churned constantly by a violent east gale 
which sweeps along the lower rim of the stratosphere. The horizon 
climbed upwards at the same gradual rate as the plane until at 
length it faded from sight. 

Lieutenant Crecy took the ascent with deliberate slowness, aware 
that somewhere along his route lay that dread point where the 
human body, its pressure greater than that of the area surrounding 
it, must burst — literally burst. This area w^as the stratosphere. Like 
a gigantic vampire it lay in wait, menacing and inevitable. It was 
ready to draw every particle of air from the cells of the human body 
and to suck the last drop of blood through the skin. 

Although it seemed to take an eternity. Lieutenant Crecy 
reached the icy void of extreme altitude before long. A few clouds 
rushed past the solitary aviator ; a driving blizzard, coming from no- 
where and going nowhere, swept by. The controls quivered from 
the strain of ascent. Save for the tiny indicators on his instruments, 
the aviator saw nothing. Long before this, cities had shrunk to pin- 
points and vanished ; rivers had diminished to the size of wires and 
had disappeared. There was no sound except for the motors. There 
was nothing in that void except Lieutenant Crecy and his plane. 

Lieutenant Crecy was thirty-eight years ^ old; twice he had 
been cited for valor in the World War by the French War Depart- 
ment. He had his heart set on breaking the altitude record and ex- 
pected to bring back as trophies the instruments that filled the 
cockpit. These instruments had been sealed up at Paris headqiiar- 

275 



276 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ters to preclude possible skepticism as to the authenticity of the 
readings. The young lieutenant knew his business. He was well- 
prepared for the stratosphere as a result of twelve previous high- 
altitude flights and much laboratory work. He knew all about the 
dazzling white mid-summer sun which beats down upon one so 
mercilessly because the rarefied air affords no protection against 
it. He knew all about the fearsome winter that prevails when it is 
summertime upon the earth. 

Lieutenant Crecy was bundled from head to foot in furs and 
had on heavy fur gloves. A protective coat of grease was spread 
thickly over his face. He had a monocle pinched in his left eye and 
both eyes were covered by a pair of goggles. 

Despite these precautions the wind cut him to the bone like a 
saw. Blisters cropped out on his face under the fierce blaze of the 
sun. The intense cold contracted the metal parts of his plane and 
several pieces snapped off like brittle slate. Breathing through the 
little tube in his mouth that led to the oxygen supply, he looked as 
if he were puffing away at a pipe. 

At an altitude of 9,000 to 9,500 meters, a feeling of elation came 
over Lieutenant Crecy. Was he not one of the first living creatures 
to push so far out into the universe? Lieutenant Crecy was a brave 
young man. There had been savage hand-to-hand fights in the war 
and once he had crashed into No Man's Land and lain there helpless 
between trenches and barb-wire entanglements with shrapnel kick- 
ing up the dirt around him. But all that was a thing of the past. 
He was on a fresh adventure. 

His lean, immobile face — friends were wont to call him "hatchet 
face" — was the kind photographers like to take ; to millions of folks 
it symbolized the courage and daredeviltry of the younger genera- 
tion. 

But then, at an altitude of 10,300 meters, this face suddenly 
convulsed. Spasmodically it began twitching under the layer of 
grease. The mouth opened and shut, helpless and uncontrolled, 
again and again. 

Lieutenant Crecy heard the drone of the motors no longer ; the 
sun became a blur ; his tongue and gums were parched and burned 
fiercely. Darkness closed in — soon it would be night. The young 
man started talking to himself — which he had never done before in 
his life. 

"10,982 meters above sea level . . ." he said. "Why . . . my 



After the Altitude Record ^77 

mother never used to have black hair ... it was brown. I've been up 
2900 hours already and here I'm only 11 meters ... A steak, 
please! Funny how the time flies . . . just a minute ago it was 29 
and now it's 92 . . . funny . . ." 

Then he could think no more. Just as the last bit of conscious- 
ness was ebbing away, just as an ovenvhelming blaze of sunlight 
was flooding over him in curious, writhing convulsions, his be- 
dimmed eyes saw a gauge. His oxygen tank was empty ! Auto- 
matically he reached for the reserve tank. Pulling himself together 
with all his might, he repeated over and over again an intense com- 
mand: "Keep your head . . . keep your head . . ." The engulfing 
sunshine receded. The sun came back into focus. The motors purred 
as they had before. The hunger pangs were gone. 

Lieutenant Crecy looked at his altimeter. It registered 11,404 
meters. The Lieutenant took the next 100 meters boldly. 

Then, apparently for no reason whatsoever, the Marie Lemaire 
started balking. It jumped its course, it lurched and it plunged 
as if it had lost its rudder. 

A cold sliudder — colder than the chill of the icy vacuum about 
him — went through Lieutenant Crecy. For a ghastly thought had 
struck him. What if the oxygen gave out and he could not beat John 
Macready's 11,702 meter mark! 

A minute seemed like another eternity now. Before long he was 
again gasping. He could feel his heart pounding. He was fighting 
for air. He told himself that he really could not be in serious danger 
yet. But there were so many fish swimming all around with such 
glassy staring eyes. 

^Meanwhile he was conscious that his plane was flying at an ex- 
tremely high altitude and that there was something definitely wrong. 
He was certain though, that whatever was wrong, it would not be 
hard to adjust. Just pressing a button or something like that would 
do the trick. 

But he couldn't quite figure out what to do. There were so many 
fish swimming around getting in the way. 

There — he had it ! Something ought to be done about that mid- 
dle lever. Vaguely he raised his hand. Away darted the stick, spin- 
ning madly about. Where was the damned thing anyhow? Lieu- 
tenant Crecy could not find it. Apparently to drive away those 
pesky fish he pushed up his goggles. 

Then he felt a twisting stab in his brain — nothing more after 



S78 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

that. The same day the Marie Lemaire (S A III 26) was found 
drifting on a body of water. Strange to say, it was hardly damaged. 
The dead Lieutenant was found sitting upright, his hand frozen 
to the steering gear. One of his eyes was frozen shut, the other held 
open by a monocle. 

The altimeter, its seal unbroken, showed that Lieutenant Crecy 
had reached an altitude of 12,14)9 meters, thus breaking the pre- 
vious record by 447 meters. 



There Musi Be a Losing Coach 

by Samuel W. Taylor 



When the girl came into the lodge lobby, the State football squad 
was sitting around waiting out the hour until bedtime. They'd 
traveled halfway across the continent to play tomorrow's game and 
they w^ere nervous but trying not to show it. According to all the 
dope, they'd win at a walk, but you never could tell. And the Wild- 
cats would be pointing for them. In fact, it was known that the job 
of the Wildcat coach depended on winning this game. He'd shoot 
the wad against State. 

But when the girl came into the lobby, the thirty-four State 
huskies for the moment forgot about the game; and even Coach 
Happy Hough, in the middle of telling something important to a 
reporter from the Telegram, trailed off. The reporter didn't notice 
it, for he'd also seen the girl. She stood just inside the doorway, 
oblivious of — or accustomed to — the open admiration, and slowly 
surveyed the faces of the squad. 

Then she said, "Swede," and envious eyes turned to the tall end 
w^ho got to his feet, face a dull, flushed red in contrast to straw- 
colored hair. 

"Hello, Marta," he said, and crossed to her, automatically 
avoiding a foot stuck out to trip him. 

They stood a moment together, and then she said, "I thought 
maybe you'd call." 

"Been pretty busy." His eyes went to the floor. "We only got 
in yesterday. We had a workout, and there was a banquet last night, 
and then tonight Coach brought us out here to this lodge where we 
wouldn't be molested — I mean, where things would be quiet — " 

"I know you've been busy," she said. "But I thought you might 
give us a ring." Her voice lowered. "Andy wants to see you." 

He glanced over his shoulder, almost furtively. "It's almost bed- 
time," he said. 

^^You could be decent about it," she said, and added with a faint 
touch of scorn : "Or perhaps you think he'll try to bribe you.^" 

"Let's not go into things." 

279 



S80 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Swede, you've hurt him terribly. He's still your father, you 
know. And you haven't even given him a ring." 

"I'll ask Coach." Swede crossed to where Happy Hough was 
talking with the Telegram reporter. 

"I'd like to go out for an hour, Coach." 

Happy Hough glanced at the lobby clock. Four minutes to nine. 
"Be in by ten," he said. He didn't mean ^\^ after ten. 

"Nothing can happen in an hour," the reporter said. He began 
laughing loudly, then sobered abruptly under Happy Hough's ice- 
blue gaze. The coach had got his nickname for the same reason fat 
men are called Tiny. 

"Just like old times," the girl said as she drove Swede down the 
twisting canyon road. "A moon and a car and — us." The light 
touch came with an effort. 

Swede said nothing. Looking backwards always hurt, and he 
didn't like to do it. 

"How are you making out, Swede?" 

"Okay." 

"You're first-string end, I hear." 

"Yes." 

"That's nice going for a sophomore." 

He said nothing, and she gave up trying to make conversation. 
A decrepit dine-dance spot had been wedged against the hillside 
where the canyon widened out briefly. Marta pulled up before it, 
and Swede followed her in. It was a dismal place with a low ceiling 
and dirty floor, and deserted but for the heavy-set man in the last 
of the three booths. He was a big man, florid, always a bit rumpled, 
hearty but with small bitter lines at his mouth corners when he 
wasn't smiling. 

He was Andy Jones, coach of the team Swede had come half 
across the continent to play. 

"Hello, Swede." 

"Hello, Dad." 

There was reserve in their smiles and handshakes, almost a cau- 
tion, that each tried not to show. Swede saw that his father had 
changed in the year and a half since he'd last seen him. That had 
been in Texas, before Andy Jones got the head coaching position 
out here. He'd always been a big man, but now there was a certain 
looseness about him, as if he were beginning to sag under the pres- 
sure of twenty-odd years in the coaching grind. Twenty-odd years 






,1- 



There Must Be a Losing Coach 281 

can be a long time — high school coach, anonymous assistant in uni- 
versities here and there and everywhere hoping and waiting for the 
big chance while the world forgot you were once All- American. And 
then last spring he'd finally got his bid for head coach — on a one- 
year contract. After all that waiting, he had to produce a winning 
team in one season, or drop back out of sight again. And he hadn't 
come through. This season his Wildcats had won two, tied one, and 
lost four. It was an open secret that he'd be thrown to the wolves 
unless the Wildcats won tomorrow's intersectional game with State. 

"You're looking fine, Swede," Andy Jones said. Swede replied 
that he felt all right. Marta remarked about the weather and the 
three of them squeezed the last word out of that subject. It was 
stuffy and uncomfortable, and Swede had wanted to avoid it all. 
There was nothing he could say any more to his girl or his father, 
without bringing up the past, and that was all settled long ago. 

The door of the place opened and slammed shut. A voice said, 
"A beer." Then, rising: "Hello, Andy! What bringeth thou.^ Are 
you — ?^^ It died away. 

Swede turned to see the reporter for the Telegram who'd been 
talking with Coach Happy Hough back at the lodge. The reporter 
was looking from Andy Jones to Swede and trying not to appear 
surprised. 

"Hello," Andy Jones said. He nodded at Swede. "This is my 
boy." 

''Your hoy V' 

"My hoy. No ; I'm not buying off the State players. Swede's my 
son." 

"Oh, your son. Say ! — that's a story ! Father against son. And if 
the son's team wins — You don't mind if I use it, Andy?" 

"Yes, I do mind. It's just a little cheap." 

"Well, after all, Andy — somebody else would pick it up if I 
didn't. And where'd my job be?" 

Andy Jones shrugged. He might have argued a year ago, but 
not now. 

"Say, Andy, how come your boy's not playing for us instead of 
for State? How come — " 

"Get out of here," Swede said, rising. "You've got your story, 
now get out of here." 

"Well, sure, Swede," the reporter said hurriedly, backing away. 
"Sure. I was just leaving anyhow." 



^8^ Esquire's Second Sports Readei* 

"I'm sorry this happened," Andy Jones said. 

Swede shrugged. "It'll sell more tickets. I've got to go, Dad. It 
was nice seeing you again." 

Driving up the twisting canyon road, the girl said, "You see 
how he's changed .f^" 

"Yeah." 

"Football did it to him. Do you understand why we wanted to 
keep you out of the game?" 

Swede shrugged. "Dad's getting old, is all." 

"He's forty-four. ... If they'd given him a three-year contract 
— or even a two-year contract. What can a man do in one year? And 
if he fails now, how long will it be before he gets another chance as 
head coach? It isn't that he'll be out of a job. He's a good classroom 
man. Did you know they offered him a full professorship, back in 
Texas?" 

"No." 

"He turned it down for the one-year coaching contract here. 
Swede, he's got to win against your team tomorrow. He's got to 
have his chance." 

Swede didn't say anything. 

When she pulled up before the lodge they sat a few moments, 
awkwardly, in silence. He'd always kissed her goodnight after they'd 
been out together. At first teasingly, then seriously. She'd been six- 
teen when his father married her mother. During the trouble that 
made Swede leave home, Marta had taken his father's side, and that, 
he'd long ago decided, was that. But now as he looked at her in the 
moonlight the old feeling came welling up ; and he abruptly got 
out of the car. No use starting that all over again. 

"Maybe I'll see you again before we go," he said. 

As he turned to the lodge she said, "Swede," and it took all the 
strength he had not to turn back to her. 

He didn't sleep much that night. At ten the next morning the 
State squad had the last meal before the game. He didn't eat much. 
A bus took them around the city to take their minds off the game. 
A barker pointed out places of interest but nobody listened. The 
squad's wisecracks were strained, laughter too loud. The bus took 
them to the field house an hour before the game and they began 
getting into their equipment. 

"Jones," Coach Happy Hough said to Swede, and motioned 
towards the showers. There was a moment of inaction as the squad 



There Must Be a Losing Coach 283 

paused, eyes on Swede. "Break it up, boys!" the trainer bawled. 
"Don't forget we're playing football today!" 

"You read the Telegram this morning.^" the coach asked Swede 
at the shower room door. 

"No ; but I know what it said." 

Coach Hough waited, icy-blue eyes steady. A successful coach 
can't be a soft man at any time. 

"It makes a good story. It'll help the gate." And when Swede 
still didn't say anything; "I might have been told about a thing 
like that." 

"I hoped it wouldn't come out." Swede took a deep breath. "Dad 
and I never got along. That's all. He didn't want me to play foot- 
ball. So I left home." 

"He didn't want you to get hurt?" 

"Not that, exactly." It was hard for Swede to put this into 
words. He'd never talked about it outside the family, and it seemed 
somehow a violation of good taste. "It's because I want to follow it 
up, and be a coach myself. Dad wanted me to be a doctor. He said 
that — well you know what the coaching game is. Coach." 

Happy Hough nodded. "I know." He'd failed with his first 
cliance, and spent sixteen years waiting for another. By the time 
he got the second chance, he'd learned how to be ruthless. "I know. 
One team always has to lose. And a coach always has to win." This 
was almost being garrulous for Happy Hough. "Your father's 
right, Jones." 

"I know it ; but that doesn't change anything." 

Happy Hough nodded. "I know. You want to be All- American 
end, and then go on to coaching. You've got some ideas about the 
game. You've worked out some variations to my system. You don't 
like some of the things I do with my team. You're going to set the 
world on fire, when you're coach." Then as Swede's jaw clenched, 
Happy Hough smiled, a rare thing for him, and he put his hand on 
the boy's shoulder. "I'm not being sarcastic, Swede. I know." 

He turned to three newspapermen coming in. One of them was 
the Telegram reporter, who asked, "Any change in the lineup, 
Coach?" 

"Yes ; Warbuck at right end." 

The Telegram man glanced at Swede. "Instead of Jones?" He 
knew Swede played right end; there was no need of stating it. 
Happy Hough ignored the question. 



284j Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

As the game started, Swede sat with his chin in his big hands, 
watching from the bench. The Wildcat guards were charging too 
hard. Yes, Fhnt, State quarterback, called for a mousetrap play 
and ran the ball to first downs. Then as the guards stopped charg- 
ing, Flint rifled a pass to Warbuck, playing Swede's position at 
right end. Warbuck got his hands on the ball and dropped it. Flint's 
passes had a lot of stinging pace and spin ; but Swede had the knack 
of holding them. The Flint-to-Jones pass was already becoming 
famous, and Flint was also a sophomore. With two more years of 
competition, they'd both be All- American, if nothing happened. . . . 
Swede tried to pick out Marta's face in the sea of the Wildcat root- 
ing section. She w^as there, but he couldn't see her. The crowd was 
good, thanks to the curiosity aroused by the Telegram article. 
Father versus son. The thing seemed cheaply melodramatic. . . . 
The Wildcats had the ball now, and the offense rolled. They had 
power. The fullback, Lincoln, was terrific, a coach's dream. But he 
didn't have precision blocking from the Wildcat line, and they lost 
the ball down in paydirt where the going got tough. 

At the end of the half. Coach Hough gave brief advice about 
each position. He said to the quarterback : "Flint, they can be suck- 
ered. Watch out for Lincoln ; he's a natural. But open up the trick 
stuff. They can be suckered." This was saying they weren't well 
coached, and Swede felt his face hot in a flush. Happy Hough did 
not look at him. 

Except for Lincoln, the State trick stuff would have rolled in the 
third quarter. The Wildcat fullback was the coach's dream — ^the 
man who plays with some sixth sense, smelling out plays by instinct, 
leaving his position time after time, but always being in it when 
State passed into his territory. Late in the quarter he intercepted a 
pass and broke loose. The State safety man downed him deep in 
State territory. Held for three downs, the Wildcats place-kicked 
for three points, the first score of the game. Swede saw his father 
dancing like a boy at the Wildcat bench. 

In the fourth quarter Warbuck dropped two more of Flint's 
stinging passes. Either one, if completed, would have meant a State 
score and would have put them in the lead. Swede found himself 
watching Andy Jones on the bench across the field. With another 
year, Andy Jones could polish his team up. He had material. With 
a chance, he might become another Warner or Sutherland — or even 
a Rockne. 



There Must Be a Losing Coach 285 



{=> 



"Jones !" Coach Hough barked. "Warm up !" 

Swede ran up and down before the bench, bringing his knees 
high. The loudspeaker said, "Jones warming up for State," and 
then, in answer to the expectant hush from the crowd, it added that 
Jones was the son of the Wildcat coach. The crowd knew this, but 
wanted to hear it said. Coach Hough stood up, lean and solid and 
hard and tough, and Swede paused before him. 

"How are you?" The ice-blue eyes were steady. 

"Okay." 

"Look, Swede." It was the first time the coach had called him by 
liis nickname. "I don't want to put you in there today, but you 
can hang onto Flint's passes. Do you want to go in.^" 

"Yes," Swede said. He had no choice. 

"It's only a game — but the game's like that. You understand.^" 

"Yes." 

The coach spatted him on the rump and Swede ran onto the field, 
feeling tight inside. He'd never known before that Happy Hough's 
ice-blue eyes could be other than hard. 

State made yardage as the Wildcats anticipated a pass. Then 
when the defense had pulled in, Flint called the seventy-one play. 
That was the Flint-to-Jones play, already becoming famous. 

Swede dropped into position, counting for rhythm. The shift; 
flanker to the left. At the count of nine the ball snapped from cen- 
ter. Swede put a glancing block on the Wildcat tackle and drifted 
diagonally three steps to his left, then spurted to his right past the 
Wildcat back assigned to him on pass defense, catching the man 
flat-footed. Running downfield, he saw that Lincoln had smelled out 
the play and was cutting for him. Swede put on all the steam he had 
for thirty steps, and then looked back over his shoulder. The pass 
was leading him, and still high. Lincoln was alongside now. The ball 
had too much lead. 

And then somehow, right then, everything seemed to freeze. The 
ball was motionless, seams showing. In this curious frozen moment, 
Swede wondered if he really should call on that reserve that always 
came to him in a pinch. It was a mysterious surge of energy that 
briefly lifted him above what he was capable of doing. It was this 
thing that had made him sure, deep inside, that he'd become All- 
American. But now in this moment his father was on the Wildcat 
bench, and the fate of that pass was the fate of his future. 

His father was praying that Swede should miss that pass. Coach 



286 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Hough had put Swede in the game for the purpose of catching the 
pass. Swede hadn't stopped to reahze fully until this moment just 
how hard and merciless the game of football was. He'd only known 
the rising fire within him that wouldn't be downed. He'd seen him- 
self All- American, and going on to be another Warner or Suther- 
land — or perhaps even a Rockne. But he hadn't known there would 
be this moment. 

He was still running ; the ball was spinning ; Lincoln was stride 
and stride with him. The ball was out of reach. 

Then almost automatically he took an extra stride faster than 
he could possibly run, leaped higher than he possibly could leap, 
and when his wide-spread fingers felt the sharp sting of the ball Lin- 
coln was a full step behind. The single step made the difference, and 
Lincoln's desperate tackle grazed Swede's heels as he went over the 
line for six points and the game. 

At the final gun, Andy Jones arose from the bench and started 
across the turf to congratulate the winning coach, which was the 
formality. The crowd was pouring out of the stadium, flowing over 
the edge and onto the field like molten metal from a huge ladle. The 
flood swept over the Wildcat goalposts, bearing them down ; waving 
autograph cards, it engulfed the State players on their way to 
the field house. A mob was around Coach Hough, shaking his hand 
and laughing at his slightest word. Coach Andy Jones came alone 
across the close-clipped turf, picking his way among the eddies of 
the human flood, unnoticed, a heavy man beginning to sag with the 
pressure, eyes straight before him and with the howl of the wolves 
in his ears. The crowd around Coach Hough jostled him as he picked 
a way through. 

"Congratulations, Happy," he said, shaking hands. "Your boys 
played a great game." 

"Thanks, Andy," Hough said. "I was just lucky." 

Those were the formalities, and with them over Andy Jones 
turned awav to face the wolves alone. 

The shadows were long and cool as Swede came out of the field 
house. Marta was waiting. She'd been crying. Swede knew she was 
thinking: "I hope you're satisfied!" She'd been against him in 
the old argument with his father. She was hurt, now. It hurt her 
to see Andy Jones defeated. 

"That was a great catch, Swede," she said. 

"Thanks." There was nothing more to say. "Well, goodbye." 



i 



I'here Must Be a Losin^r Coach 287 



& 



"I'll drive you home," she said. 

He didn't know how to refuse the ride. They picked their way 
among the thousands of cars all trying to get out at once. 

"Mother will have dinner ready. Steak for you," Marta said 
when they reached the car. "Let's sit here awhile until the jam 
smoothes out." 

Swede knew he couldn't face his father. He said, "There's a 
banquet for the squad tonight. So if you'll drop me at the hotel." 

She took his big hand, looking up at him understandingly, her 
fine ej^es still red from crying. "It's all right, Swede. We want you 
home with us for dinner. We all understand." 

Swede said nothing. He didn't understand. 

"That professorship's still open in Texas. Andy's going to take 
it." 

Swede swallowed. His throat was tight. It was hard to see his 
father beaten. 

She said, "I really think he's glad, in a way. It's a weight off 
him. He laughed at me for crying. I think he's really happy in a 
way." 

"If he'd had another year here to build a squad — " 

"No ; he doesn't feel that way, now. He had good boys, and he 
knows it. And the fullback — Lincoln — there's a coach's dream. I 
beheve Andy knows it now. He knows that he just isn't cut out 
for a big-time coach. You either are or you aren't. Now he knows. 
That's something, to know. But you see he couldn't give up until 
he'd had his chance — ^until he did know. Now he'll be happy as a 
professor. If he'd taken the job last year, he'd always have known 
he should have been a great coach. It would have continually 
gnawed at him." 

Swede nodded miserably. They sat there while the cars crawled 
slowly past like grains into a giant funnel. 

"It's the toughest game of all," Marta went on. "One coach al- 
ways has to lose, and every coach must always win. That's why it 
calls you, Swede. It's a challenge. You're like Andy was twenty 
years ago. You can't ignore the challenge. You've got to meet it. 
You've got to know. You'll never be satisfied until you've made the 
try." 

That was it, Swede realized. He'd never reduced it to so many 
words. 

"I'm running off at the mouth," Marta said. "But you see, I'm 



288 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

trying to reason things out for myself. There was a moment when 
you were after that pass, when things seemed to stand still, and 
I realized what I'm trying to say now. Swede, if you hadn't made 
that last try for that pass, I wouldn't have been waiting for you. 
Shall we go home?" 

"Yes," Swede said, "let's go." He realized he was hungry, and 
happy at the prospect of having dinner again at home. 



Sparring Partner 

Ly Curt Riesd 



It was just two o'clock when the Middleweight Champion entered 
the gym. He took the side stairway, avoiding the front entrance 
where a couple of hundred fans were waiting to see him pass. He 
dressed for his workout in the gym owner's private office. For a 
quarter the fans downstairs could have come up to watch him train. 

The Champ made a dramatic entrance into the gym. Striding 
out of the boss's office he halted in front of the door and turned on 
his best publicity smile. He was wearing a long silk dressing go^n 
over his gym outfit, a green shimmery thing, tightly belted. The 
Champ cut a magnificent figure and he knew it. 

A moment later three men came out of the same office and joined 
the Champ. One of them was wearing a derby and chewing a cigar • 
another, without coat or vest, was rolling up his shirt sleeves; the 
third, in a red turtleneck sweater, carried the Champ's gloves and 
head guard in one hand and a jar of rub-down cream in the other. 
Everybody turned to look toward the door. 

The gym was packed. Men were clustered around the two rings 
and others were sitting on the steps that led to the training rooms 
and to the gallery on the next floor. There was applause from those 
who could see the Champ. Some in the crowd called out friendly 
greetings to him. The Champ rewarded them with a smile and a nod 
of recognition. A couple of photographers pushed through the 
crowd and posed the Champ. He stood smiling pleasantly while flash 
bulbs flared. Reporters left their seats and sauntered over to him. 

They didn't have a chance to talk to the Champ, however. After 
a few words with the fellow in the derby the Champ trotted to the 
ring, climbed the ropes and gracefully accepted the round of ap- 
plause. It stopped suddenly when the boss entered the ring and 
introduced the Champ. It was quiet, too, while the Champ's face was 
being treated with cream and while his gloves and head guard were 
being adjusted. 

The bell rang and the Champ turned and faced the opposite 
corner. Only then I noticed the other boxer, taller, slimmer and 
younger than the Champ. The Champ started things when they met 

289 



S90 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

in the center of the ring, leading with his left, stepping forward 
and then letting fly with a right hook. The first blow landed but 
the sparring partner sidestepped the right. Now they were in close, 
each jabbing at the other's body until the Champ pushed his op- 
ponent away, at the same time stabbing at him with short hooks to 
the face. 

"Your left ! Use your left !" the man in the derby shouted to the 
Champ. His left arm vaguely illustrated his instructions. The 
Champ tried a couple of straight lefts, but the boy danced away 
from them. The youngster came back with a right to the face, a 
neat punch that connected squarely with the Champ's nose. 

Next to me sat a fight manager called Baldy. There wasn't a 
hair on his head, which was round and pink and shiny. He was fat 
and very friendly, for a fight manager, 

"What's the kid's name, Baldy?" I asked. 

"Whose name?" said Baldy, without taking his eyes from the 
ring. He wiped his forehead with a rumpled handkerchief. It was 
getting warm in the gym. 

I took a closer look at the Champ's sparring partner. I guessed 
his weight at 185 or 140. He couldn't have been more than twenty- 
one, and his unscarred face indicated that he hadn't been in the 
ring much. 

The Champ was in at him again now and tossed a sweet left hook. 
He followed through with a right uppercut that jolted the young- 
ster's head. The kid was giving way and the crowd shouted its 
appreciation. A reporter leaned over to the guy in the derby. "The 
Champ's got a honey of a left," he said. The trainer grunted and 
shifted his cigar, but didn't say anything. He was watching the 
Champ, watching his every move. 

The kid had been driven into a corner and was covering his 
face with his arms ; the Champ was pounding his ribs with fast little 
punches and the kid's sides w^ere getting red in patches. The kid 
ducked out of the corner but the Champ stuck with him. 

"Say, all he's got to do is fight like that on the big night," some- 
body said. 

The fellow in shirt sleeves at the corner of the ring looked 
around. "You ain't seen nothing yet, Buddy," he said. 

The sparring partner finally recovered and shot two or three 
short lefts to the Champ's chest. I could see him better now, A 
good-looking kid. His black hair, which had been combed flat, was 



'li 



sparring Partner 291 

beginning to muss and a couple of strands fell over his forehead. 
His eyes were large and dark, his nose straight and very sharp. The 
hips were narrow, but so were the shoulders. Not yet fully developed, 
probably. His legs were fine — muscular and elastic. 

The Champ wasn't boxing at all now. He let the sparring part- 
ner use both hands and just ducked and weaved and side-stepped, 
keeping out of the way. The crowd enjoyed his clever stalling, 
but it didn't last long. From a crouched position the Champ de- 
livered a long, sudden left. It landed squarely on the kid's nose and 
mouth with just enough power to knock him off balance. He fell 
back and bounced heavily against the ropes. A thin line of blood 
ran from his mouth. The gong clanged. The Champ, about to 
follow up his attack, stopped at the sound and turned back to his 
corner. The guy in shirt sleeves gave him water and started to dry 
him off. 

At the gong the chatter among the fans had got so loud you had 
to shout to be heard. A flash bulb went off. Near me a young fellow 
with bright red hair talked loudly and rapidly to a reporter. 

"There's gonna be another hell of a fuss about the food when 
we get back to camp," he said. "The Champ'U only eat what his 
mother cooks. The last time we — " 

"So what?" the reporter said. The redhead walked away. 

Somebody had thrown a towel to the sparring partner who was 
alone in his corner drying his arms and chest. His face was wet 
and he was still breathing rapidly. Baldy was watching him too. 
"Name's Jimmy Rossi, he's a welterweight. Got possibilities," Baldy 
said to me. I said it looked that way to me too. 

The man in the derby, still chewing his cigar, was talking to 
the Champ, giving him instructions. The Champ nodded steadily, 
staring at his gloves. The fellow in shirt sleeves straightened the 
Champ's head guard. 

"They want to show off for the papers," said Baldy. "Watch 
this." 

The bell sounded. 

The boxers danced around each other, exchanging short, experi- 
mental lefts and rights. They kept it up for a while, ducking, twist- 
ing and showing off some clever footwork. The pace was fast and 
very soon the kid's breathing was audible all over the gym. 

The redhead was talking quietly now to another reporter. The 



292 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

newspaperman listened dully, but the redhead seemed satisfied when 
he scribbled something on a piece of paper. 

The Champ was boxing now, but he was pulHng his punches 
and watching his sparring partner's lefts which were getting annoy- 
ing even though they usually bounced off the head guard. The 
reporter that Red had just spoken to was disgusted. "He's a sucker 
for a left," he said. "He better learn how to keep away from them 
before he takes on the Nigger, or else." 

"Okay, let 'er go!" called the man in the derby, taking the 
cigar out of his mouth. The Champ nodded. He pushed the kid away 
to arm's length and reached out with a straight, fast left. Rossi 
sidestepped to avoid the Champ's right which he saw coming and 
walked into a second left, a solid, well-timed blow that had the 
Champ's whole body behind it. It caught Rossi on the temple and 
shook him. The kid's arms relaxed and his legs wobbled. 

The guy in the derby was shouting something, but you couldn't 
catch the words. The fans were making a terrific racket. A flash 
went off. Rossi picked himself up and the Champ ran over to help 
him. The photographers yelled to hold it. The Champ smiled, and 
there were more flashes. 

Red was talking to the reporter again. "We got the damnedest 
job finding sparring partners," he said. "They're afraid they'll get 
killed. Last year when we were training for the Frenchman — -" 

Jimmy Rossi was on his feet now, massaging his neck. He went 
to his corner, picked up his towel and began to dry himself. I asked 
Baldy if he knew how much the kid got for the two rounds. He 
shrugged his shoulders. "Must have got ten bucks, sparring with 
the Champ," he said. "The others only pay two, three, ^yq bucks, 
or nothing at all if they're broke." 

The Champ was in his own corner again, rinsing his mouth. The 
gong rang and a fresh sparring partner climbed into the ring. He 
bowed all around. Jimmy Rossi climbed out of the ring. 

"Sparring partners for heavyweights get a lot more," Baldy 
continued. "Heavyweight fighters can afford to pay more. They 
muss up their partners more too." 

I pushed my way through to the stairway and went up to the 
next floor. Ten or twelve young fellows were jumping rope and 
others were working out on punching bags and sand dummies. They 
all stopped when a bell sounded and wiped the sweat away. You 



Sparring Partner 293 

could hear their slow, deep breathing while they rested. Another 
clang started them working again. 

Jimmy Rossi was jumping too. He w^as taking it very easy, hop- 
ping slowly, not exerting himself. Baldy spoke to him during the 
rest period and Rossi nodded. 

I was upstairs only a few minutes when the Champ himself 
came in, followed by reporters, photographers and a couple of dozen 
fans. Some of the fans had to go do^Tistairs again because there 
wasn't enough room. The Champ started on a sandbag. He began 
slowly, then increased his speed and power. He got in close and 
bombarded the bag with furious hooks and uppercuts. The Champ 
hit from the shoulder, putting every ounce of weight and energy 
into it: I remembered Jimmy Rossi had been knocked down with 
that same punch. Sandbag or sparring partner, the Champ has to 
get into form. 

I walked over to where Baldy was standing wiping the perspira- 
tion from his pink skull. I asked him what he thought of Rossi. 

"Want to buy him.?" asked Baldy. 

I shrugged. 

"Jimmy's got a future," Baldy said, "with that left of his. He's 
got a lot to learn, though. The whole trouble is, the beginners today, 
they don't have trainers worth a damn." 

"You own Jimmy?" I asked. 

"I know the guy who's got him signed up. Maybe we can do 
business." Baldy looked at me. 

"Say," I said, "if Jimmy's that good why do they let him spar 
with the Middleweight Champ?" 

"Why shouldn't a young boxer earn a little money sparring?" 
he asked. "Ten dollars for two rounds is nothing to sneeze at." 

"How much do you think he earns a year, Baldy ?" I asked. 

Baldy was suspicious. "What's that got to do with buying the 
contract?" he wanted to know. 

I laughed. "Say, forget the contract. I'm not in the market." 

"Well," said Baldy, not completely convinced, "let's see. A kid 
like Jimmy only fights in small clubs. If he's lucky, maybe he gets 
a couple of fights at the Garden. I guess he must get twenty-five 
bucks for four rounds. If he shows up good and the crowds like him 
maybe he gets a hundred or a hundred fifty for six or eight rounds. 
That's about the most he can make a night." 

"How often can he fight?" I asked. 



294} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"If he don't get hurt — -well, maybe twenty times a year." 

"So he's good for anywhere from five hundred to one thousand 
dollars a year," I said. 

"Could be more, could be less," Baldy said. 

"What's his manager's take?" I asked. 

Baldy was indignant. "Not a cent. We don't take a damn cent 
from small-time boxers. If the kid ever gets anywhere we make 
real money. If not, we're out of luck." 

The redhead was back again giving the dope to another re- 
porter. "All w^e had to do was sign on the dotted line out there 
in Los Angeles," he was explaining. "We were getting fifty per cent 
of the gate. But when they offered a ten-thousand-dollar guaranty 
the Champ just laughed in their faces. The Champ wouldn't put on 
a pair of gloves for a guaranty less than twenty-five grand. The 
Champ told them he wasn't running no benefit." 

"About as much as an elevator boy," I said to Baldy. 

Red was talking again. "We done the right thing when we come 
east. There's dough in these parts." His eyes glittered. "If I only 
made what Joe Louis pays for income tax." 

The Champ finished his workout and went downstairs again. 

Baldy was beginning to get sore. "That's only the beginning, 
I tell you," he said emphatically. "My God, who don't know that 
a boxer's got a better chance to get in the dough than an elevator 
boy." 

I turned to go, but just then Rossi walked up to us. He was 
sweaty and out of breath. He had a towel around his shoulders and 
he was still carrying his rope. 

"Jimmy, I'd like you to meet a good friend of mine," said Baldy. 
"Jimmy Rossi, Mr. " 

I told him my name. 

"Glad to meet you," Jimmy said. We shook hands and he went 
on downstairs to the showers. "See you later," he said. 

I went downstairs too. Most of the crowd had left when the 
Champ finished his workout for the day. I sat down in a ringside 
seat and lit a cigarette. It was a good-sized gym. The rings took 
up only about a third of the floor space. The windows were two 
stories high and should have been enough to light the place, but it 
was gloomy as hell. The floodlights over each ring made the rest 
of the gym seem darker. Everything except the rings was grey and 
indistinct. Stale, bluish tobacco smoke hung in clouds, its odor 



Sparring Partner ^95 

mingling with that of massage oils and human sweat. You could 
hear feet scraping on the resined canvas and the ring platforai 
creaking as the boxers sparred with one another. There was a vague 
undercurrent murmur of scraps of conversation, laughter and 
hoarse calls for this or that one to come to the phone. Every three 
minutes the gong sounded and other boxers would take their turns 
in the rings. 

There was a boxer in the ring nearer me whom I was sure I had 
seen somewhere else. I watched him awhile and then I recalled that 
I had seen him box in the Garden a couple of years before. He was 
a light-heavy and not bad in his prime. I hadn't seen him in the 
meantime, and he'd gone downhill fast. There was a broad ring of 
fat above his trunks and his face was puffed and heavy. His oppo- 
nent was a wiry young Negro boy who was boxing circles around 
him, landing one left jab after the other on his chin : the old-timer's 
face was coloring up. He kept swinging after the Negro but 
he couldn't touch him. The boy kept out of reach. The old-timer 
was already beginning to breathe hard. 

I saw somebody I knew coming out of the boss's office. He was 
one of the doctors hired by the New York State Athletic Commis- 
sion. The reporters had evidently been waiting for him. "Every- 
thing O.K., gentlemen," he said. "If it were up to me the Champ 
could fight tomorrow. He's in fine condition, fine condition." 

The round was over and the old-timer walked heavily back to 
his corner. He couldn't have been more than thirty. The colored 
boy was twenty-one at most. In ten years the Negro boy would be 
breathing hard too. 

The old-timer leaned exhausted against the post in his corner 
while Lou, his trainer, dried him off. I knew Lou and I wondered 
what he was thinking of, training his has-been. When the gong 
sounded he pushed his man into the middle of the ring. 

The doctor came over to me and sat down. He watched the 
sparring and I saw right away that he didn't like the looks of it. 
He was looking at the old timer's legs and they were awful. Grey- 
white colored, with the flesh all flabby and loose. Like the legs of 
a tottering old man. They seemed to quiver with every punch. 

The doctor motioned Lou over. "I suppose you know he's got no 
license," he said. "What's he training for.?'* 

"He's signed up for a bout somewhere in the Middle West." 

"You mean he's letting himself be beat to a pulp for a lousy 



296 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

two hundred dollars. And the promoter collects a grand. The crowd 
pays because he once had a name. Nice going, Lou," the doctor said. 

Lou said, "He has a wife and three kids." 

"Another couple of fights and you'll take him to the hospital." 

Lou glanced over at the ring and answered in a low voice, "What 
the hell can I do. Doc ? You know me, you know I don't like it. But 
the poor guy's starving. When he was going good I was his trainer 
and made money. Now he asks me to train him for this fight. My 
God, I can't just tell him he's washed up. I'm not getting a nickel 
out of it. Doc— he can't even pay his rent. I gave him a five spot 
yesterday so he could feed his kids." 

The doctor said nothing. 

"Can you tell me what else to do, Doc?" said Lou. "It's no fun, 
you know, pushing a guy into the ring and saying, ^go on, fight,' 
when you know the guy can't fight and when you know he's scared 
as all hell." 

Lou went back to the corner. 

"Does the Commission revoke many licenses?" I asked. 

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. "It's a nasty job, taking a 
license away from a man who doesn't realize he's burnt out," he 
answered. "Most fighters don't know when they're through." 

We went to the little soft drink bar at the back of the gym and 
ordered orange drinks. 

"Very few of them know when to quit," he repeated. "They 
wouldn't have the money even if they knew they were through." 

Lou came up for a drink too. "Doc," he said. "I'll tell you what 
the whole trouble is. It's the women. It's the women makes these 
guys soft. Women and drink. It's not how much punishment you 
take in the ring, it's how you take your women and your liquor." 
Lou spoke in a tone of finality and conviction. 

The doctor shook his head. "No, Lou, you're WTong," he said. 
*'It's the punishment you take. Our heads weren't made to be 
punched at. Every time they're hit there are minor brain hemor- 
rhages and that means pressure on the nerve centers. Everybody 
can take just so many punches, Lou. When you've had your quota, 
you're through." 

"It was the women, Doc," Lou said. "The women softened him 
up." Lou didn't want any more argument so he walked away. 

The doctor gulped his drink. "Trouble is, there's nothing a has- 



Sparring Partner 297 

been fighter Can do. At thirty he doesn't know anything but boxing 
and he can't box." 

Jimmy Rossi was coming by, looking very sporty in a light grey 
suit and a blue tie. I stopped him and asked if he wanted something 
to drink. He ordered a glass of milk. The doctor looked at the clock. 
"You read too much about the few fighters who make good and 
not enough about the hundreds who go punch drunk," he said. He 
waved so-long and left. 

Jimmy smiled. "There's plenty the old gent don't know about 
boxing," he said. "There's no law says you have to go slug nutty. 
If you know how to handle yourself you'll get along." 

Jimmy finished the milk and we walked over to the row of chairs 
against the wall and sat down. I looked at him. Funny thing, I 
thought, he looks older than he did in the ring. His face — it looked 
years older than his body. You saw a fierce fixity of purpose in that 
face which made a mature person of him. Then I realized that all 
the fighters had that same hard look about them. It molded their 
mouths and sharpened their eyes and made them look tense and 
cruel, these kids. 

Jimmy started to tell me about himself. He was twenty years old, 
came from a small town in Pennsylvania. He had boxed as an ama- 
teur for three years before he became a professional. Then he came 
to New York because there wasn't any real boxing in his home town. 
He didn't have any money, but he managed to get along. He boxed, 
earned a few dollars sparring and was broke pretty often. 

"I don't really need so much," he said. "I live in a furnished 
room. My biggest expense is food. You got to eat if you want to 
box." 

I asked him if things were looking up for him. 

"All I "want is a chance to show what I can do. The Champ 
is lousy and so is the challenger. I could run through the whole gang 
without working up a sweat if I had the chance." 

"You got pounded around some today, though, Jimmy," I said. 

Jimmy frowned. "That was only a lucky punch he hit me. The 
next time I spar with him just watch and see." The hard, drawn 
look was in his eyes again. 

"When you get your chance, then what?" 

"The rest is a cinch," he said. "In a year I'm World's Champion. 
Just watch.'* 

I wanted to ask him if he believed any part of what he was say- 



298 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

ing. But he was very young and not too bright, so probably he did. 

"Figure it out for yourself," he continued. "Who is there to 
stop me? They're only a bunch of bums." He got up to go. 

Maybe he really could do it, I thought, after he had left. Maybe 
the twenty or so fighters who blocked his way to the Championship 
were as lousy as he said. Maybe he would be Champ in a year. 
Somebody would be the Champ; it could be Jimmy Rossi. . . . 
Well, it was none of my business. I got up. 

The gym was nearly empty and only one ring was still in use. 
A few managers were still standing around, gabbing with Baldy. 
I walked the other way to look at the photographs of fighters which 
were hung along one wall of the gym at eye level. Each picture 
was autographed. One of the photos caught my eye. It was of a 
young boxer with a swell build, smiling confidently. He really had 
what it takes. I looked at the date on the picture. It was seven years 
old. Seven years ago the old-timer who had just taken a beating from 
the young Negro was a promising young boxer with the Champion- 
ship just around the corner, I thought to myself. 

Baldy came up to me. "Get you a good price on Rossi," he said. 
"How about it.?" 

I said I'd think it over. Baldy said O.K. 

A reporter came out of the boss's office and looked around to 
see who was still in the gym. He walked toward me. "Come along 
and have a drink.?" he said. We got as far as the door and I stopped. 

"My God, in seven years." 

"What's eating you.?" he asked me. 

"Just thinking," I said. "Get a story?" 

"The Champ gave me an interview — exclusive. The same old 
publicity hooey. I'm fed up on it." 

"You ought to try another angle some time," I said. "Interviews 
with a Champ are a dime a dozen. Interview a sparring partner." 

"Did you say interview a sparring partner?" 

"That's right. A second-rater. The guy who lets himself be 
smacked down for a couple of bucks." 

The reporter looked at me suspiciously. "Sob story stuff. I 
get it." 

"No, not sob story stuff," I said. "Just facts and figures." 

We started down the stairs to the street. I said, "Every time 
we read that a fighter has a record of thirty or forty K.O.'s it means 



sparring Partner ^99 

that thirty or forty men have been knocked cold. How often do you 
think a man can stand being knocked out?" 

"It's no good," said the reporter. "Nobody would be interested. 
The public likes success stories. It would never get past the desk, 
anyhow." 

We were on Eighth Avenue now, walking downtown. We 
stopped in front of a bar. The reporter said : 

"I was going to write novels once. I was going to stay in jour- 
nalism just till I learned the ropes. You know how long I've been 
in it? Twenty years. And what do I write? Exclusive interviews with 
bums. You know what I am? Burnt out and punch drunk. Plenty 
punch drunk." 

We went in. 



JMuraer at the Thirteenth Hole 
Ly Wallace Irwin 



Nobody in Midlothian dreamed, even jestingly, of letting business 
interfere with golf. Outland critics who said that pleasure before 
business was the rule there were ignorantly confusing golf with 
pleasure. A fundamental error. Golf is not a pastime. It is a rite, 
a system of self-mortification as definite as that by which the holy 
Brahmin attains merit. Merit at Midlothian was par at 69. In that 
devout colony Heaven was a hole in two, Hell a sand trap behind 
a beetling bunker. When the census taker reported on Midlothian 
public schools he wrote down, "Girls 118, caddies 142," without 
fear of rebuke from the Board of Regents. 

It would be next to impossible, you would say, to panel a jury 
in Midlothian during the season of the open championship. Only the 
sporting problem involved in the Spillinger-McGool murder case 
could drag twelve addicts away from the championship course to 
sit for days in the stuffy courthouse, which was rather too near the 
fairway to afford perfect concentration on a matter of life and 
death. A window behind the jury box overlooked the ninth hole, 
which was distracting. A colored caddy was testifying that he saw 
something that looked like blood ; when Juror No. 6, craning toward 
the window, whispered to Juror No. 5, "Gee, look ! He holed it with 
a chip shot !" Judge Lamb, who had also been stealing a peep at the 
play, commanded, "Order ! That was no chip shot. It was a decided 
roll. One of Tannenbaum's characteristic approaches. Bailiff, pull 
down the shade and we may proceed with the trial." 

Now the trial had reached its conclusive day, and the guilt or 
innocence of Basil F. Spillinger was about to be put to the test. Basil 
sat among his attorneys, his locker-room face drawn and haggard, 
as if he were accusing himself of slicing a long drive around the 
dog's leg. With passionate coldness the district attorney had out- 
lined his case ; the evidence was circumstantial, but damning to the 
murderous villain over there. Fervently the defense had exhorted 
the jury to revere their American sense of fair play. Regard, if you 
please, the impeccable reputation of Mr. Basil F. Spillinger, who 
had even served on Midlothian's greens committee. Then look at 

300 



Murder at the Tliirteenth Hole 301 

the evil repute of the late Nicodemus McGool, caught time and 
again teeing his ball on a summer fairway. McGool had enemies 
galore. But not Mr. Spillinger, who had always been the soul of 
kindness to this desperate and evil man. Here was a crime where 
comedy impinged on tragedy, but the State had been unable to 
produce one witness to the murder. Somebody had killed McGool, 
obviously, and with a golf club. But not Spillinger. Some enemy 
concealed in the caddy house might have propelled the lethal tool 
from a bow and arrow. Why not? Such crimes have been committed, 
and if the prosecution had been sufficiently diligent in tracing up 
the real culprit . . . 

Basil F. Spillinger raised his golf-tired eyes and surveyed the 
courtroom, which was half empty — today they were playing off 
the finals, and Midlothian had no time to waste on murders. In the 
middle of the courtroom, Basil saw the girl in pink shaking her 
auburn mane and improving her smile with a lipstick. Devoutly 
he wished that she had stayed home . . . 

Judge Lamb smacked his lips appreciatively over a heavy manu- 
script, straightened his bifocals and assumed the self-enamored 
look of an author about to read a little something he has just dashed 
off. Then he began instructing the jury on fine points in the 
Spillinger-McGool murder case. In the transcript Avhich follows 
I have taken some liberties; for no merely judicial mind can pene- 
trate the gloomy deeps of human passion. 

Consider the character of both men. Spillinger, a heavy reader, 
had distorted his sight and weakened his game until his handicap 
had become a mock and a byword ; he had a vile habit of lecturing 
on theory and topping his ball. Behind him he left a trail of divots 
and sophistries. McGool was an egocentric dub; of the kind who 
learn nothing because they know it all in the first place. Spillinger 
and McGool always played together, for reasons best known to 
Pariahs. 

It happened on an early spring morning, the air disturbing 
with earth's growing sap. Basil Spillinger went blinkingly out to 
the first tee, hoping that McGool had forgotten the rash bargain 
they made yesterday while quenching themselves at the nineteenth 
hole; that was just highball golf, properly off the record. . . . 
Basil waited lazily, watching the blue flight of a passing butterfly. 
Love, he thought, is lots more fun than golf — but you can't dance 
all night and keep fit, can you? Who cares, if it's with a girl like 



302 Esquire's Second Spoii:s Reader 

Corinne — or was the name Florine, or possibly Codeine? She was 
April, swirling in his arms, renewing youth. After all, he wasn't 
forty yet. ... 

A nasty voice disturbed his dream, saying, "Competitive golf !" 
tauntingly, and there was McGool, coming up with the colored 
caddy they called Ice Bag. McGool, who habitually worked without 
a hat, seemed to glow with an infernal tan; two sprouts of hair 
that stood up like incipient horns, long leering eyes and a twisted 
moustache completed the demon's make-up. He was the Devil him- 
self, repeating, "Competitive golf !" 

"Uh-what?" asked Basil, and ceased to be in love. In company 
with McGool you couldn't love anything, even yourself. "Competi- 
tive golf. Oh, yes. I did mention it to you, didn't I.^" 

"You mentioned it yesterday for two hours and a pint of 
Scotch," McGool prompted. "I believe you said that the only reason 
I've been licking you six up is because the game's not competitive." 

"And it's not," said Basil, squaring his jaw. "Golf was invented 
by the Dutch in the Dark Ages. In Scotland it was played by Mary 
Queen of Scots and Charles Stuart." 

"And they both got their heads cut off. Is that what you're try- 
ing to prove? Listen, I can read the Encyclopedia Britannica too. 
But I won't. I don't read golf. I play it." McGool showed a rather 
cannibalistic set of teeth. 

"Nevertheless^ golf is not a competitive game," said Basil firmly. 
"Didn't Westbrook Pegler — or was it Grantland Rice — say, 'It's 
not competitive' .f^ Row can it be, with two players, each with his 
own ball, doing nothing to interfere with the other man's game.f^ 
If a man played polo that way they'd lock him up with the horses. 
And imagine two football teams, playing with twenty-two balls, 
everybody stopping to chalk up his own score. Why, even in mar- 
bles you knock the other fellow's alley taw out of the ring. That's 
sport. What's golf?" 

"Search me," said Devil McGool. "I've been watching your game 
too long to have any ideas." 

The naturally gentle Basil fulminated. "All right, if you'll play 
it the way God — who isn't a Scotchman- — intended games to be 
played, I'll lick the living pants off you." 

"I believe you said that yesterday," said McGool, "and I've 
come to take my punishment. Call it ^ve dollars a hole." 

"Ten," grunted Basil. "And we play it with one ball, see? Tee 



Murder at the Thirteenth Hole 303 

it up, we stand at five paces on either side and when Ice Bag whistles 
we both go at it." 

"Any more rules?" asked McGool pleasantly. 

"Not for the present." Like wary duelists the competitors stood 
their distance, ready to spring, while Ice Bag set the ball on its 
little peg; then, downing a giggle, the boy whistled on his fingers. 
A leap, the merry clash of jousting as two knights sprang to action. 
A club-head flew off as the astonished ball leaped like a rabbit, fifty 
yards into the rough. "Mr. Spillinger hit it!" rejoiced Mr. Spillin- 
ger's caddy. "Niblick, niblick !" was McGool's clan call as he raced 
down the glen. His legs were faster than Basil's, but Basil's caddy, 
the one they called Half Portion, had the seeing eye. "Here it is 1" 
he wailed, and Basil's niblick missed McGool's foot by an inch, gash- 
ing the ball back into the fairway. From then on it was yoiks and 
tantivvy, instruments of sport scattered along the way, putters 
swinging into better mashie shots than either had ever made with a 
mashie. 

In their competitive ardor, approaching the flag, their gyrations 
did some credit to hockey form. McGool had landed on Spillinger's 
left leg, but Spillinger slashed bravely on. In the frenetic joy of 
slaughter Basil was trying to keep score. He had taken eleven strokes 
to McGool's seventeen, and the mangled ball perched on the edge 
of the green. Here McGool, who had done nothing but sneer, spoke 
articulately. 

"Competitive golf! I suppose you've invented a patent score 
card for this nut astronomy?" 

Basil rested on his wounded leg. "The object of every competi- 
tive game is to make a goal. In competitive golf the goal's the cup. 
Naturally." 

They stood knee to knee, putters crossed over the severely pun- 
ished ball. "This is going to be good," whispered Ice Bag to his 
friend as the putters engaged in cunning sword play. Then some- 
thing happened to Basil. His heels went up, his head went down 
and he kissed the velvet sward. McGool had hooked a putter around 
his ankle. The ball rolled toward the cup and Half Portion sunk 
it slyly with his foot. 

"Foul!" decided Basil, spitting grass. 

"How can there be a foul when there are no rules?" grinned 
Devil McGool. 



304! Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"All right," threatened Basil, "you owe me ten on this one. And 
if you want to get tough, come on." 

From that point Midlothian's rolling sward became a jousting 
field, untidy with broken lances and dented armor. To Basil Spillin- 
ger, inventor of competitive golf, it was a scene of bruised confusion, 
of duck-on-a-rock, of hare-and-hounds, of alley grudge-fighting 
with no holds barred. Basil in retrospect recalled pushing the scoun- 
drel from behind when he caught him teeing on the fairway. He 
remembered McGool's hoot, "Lookit the snake!" that spoiled the 
only good brassie shot of the day. And the time the slimy devil's 
caddy directed Basil to a small, white mushroom, leaving McGool 
to a long swing that put the ball within a yard of the seventh hole. 

They had run and wrestled most of the way over a course that 
had killed several walking fat men. As they approached the twelfth 
their pace slowed, for the human frame can take just so much pun- 
ishment. In his exaltation Basil forgot his lame leg, although he had 
developed a decided limp. This would have given McGool the edge, 
except that Basil learned the value of throwing wet divots. Once 
he threw his hat, something seldom attempted in championship play. 
Staggering toward the twelfth they were even steven. 

Then Basil had a winning idea. The ball, for some fantastic rea- 
son, lay quite a distance in the foreground. There was a cross-cut 
through the woods which would bring Basil out yards ahead of his 
rival. He gained speed. He plunged in. He stopped. Under a silver 
birch, graceful as the tree, stood a girl in pink. She was fixing some- 
thing which, had Basil been King James, might have caused him to 
remark, "Honi soit!" He stood at gaze, he blushed and reflected 
that bathing suits are God's gift to some girls. She looked up and 
smiled appreciatively — the girl named Corinne, or Florine or 
Codeine. She wasn't dressed for golf; she looked like a goddess 
fresh from a tea party. 

^'Oh," she said appropriately. 

*'0h," he responded, not to be outdone. Then murmured some- 
thing about wasn't it a lovely day. He stood rooted, nymph-bound, 
torn between love and duty. His duty was to be out there on the 
course, whaling the living lights out of McGool. And love . . . 

She said, "Oh, Mr. Spillinger, I'm so glad you came along ! I'm 
so stupid, and I tried to climb a tree. In these clothes. Just look 
what I've done." A scarlet-nailed left hand — ^wearing no engage- 



Murder at the Thirteenth Hole 305 

ment ring he noticed — pointed up the tree. A navy blue sweater 
dangled some twenty feet above. 

"Dar — " he began, then turned a brash "darling" into, "Darn 
it, how'd that thing get up there?" 

"I was knitting it for a naval aviator," she said innocently. 

"Up the tree?" 

"Oh, no. An ant or something bit me, and I hung it on a twig 
so that I could — anyhow, something made the twig snap up, and 
there it is. Mr. Spillinger, you're so smart, and so strong." 

"It looks easy," he said. Powerfully he seized the branch near 
the base, strained at it, pulled it down. It took several tries before he 
got it so low that she could rip the sweater loose and treasure it 
against her breast. Duty sprang up and pushed him toward the 
fairway, but her look told him that she had something more to 
say. She held out a mauve ticket. 

"For the Saturday dance," she said. "For the Red Cross." 

"Leave it in my mail box," he said, and added jealously, "I sup- 
pose you'll be there with the naval aviators." 

*'I wasn't with aviators last night." Her eyes came down like 
beryl window shades. "Mr. Spillinger, you're so argumentative." 

"What did I argue about?" 

"You kept saying that college made girls unfeminine. I went to 
bed wondering if you thought that about me . . ." Suddenly she 
gave his face a startled look. "Why, Mr. Spillinger, you're all over 
scratches — and a piece of mud under your eye ! Aren't you afraid of 
tetanus, or something? Here . . ." She produced a cloudy handker- 
chief and began sopping the wound. Oh, pure delight, the grate- 
ful touch of a ministering angel. • . . 

Then suddenly out of nowhere suspicion struck like a javelin. 

"See here, Codeine," he snarled, "did that devil plant you here 
to stop me? Did he?" He grabbed her delicious shoulders and shook 
her fiercely. 

"Hey, are you crazy?" she screamed. "Let go you — " 

Basil bounded out of the woodland, to see McGool in the dis- 
tance serenely inhaling cigarette smoke while Ice Bag replaced the 
flag. He had sunk the ball. 

Silently the sworn enemies bumbled their way toward the fatal 
Thirteenth. Human energy has its limits and mayhem becomes 
monotonous, even to professional wrestlers. Basil's soul was heavy 
with the sullen thought that his Pink Girl had gone yellow on him. 



S06 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Listlessly he pemiitted McGool to trip him up twice, but sought no 
reprisals. Competitive golf was essentially all right, he reflected, 
but it required rules. This experience would set him back twenty 
bucks, but what of it? Experiments cost. 

The tragedy on Hole Thirteen was without witnesses, for the 
good reason that the caddies finally went on strike. McGool, mistak- 
ing friend for foe, had thrown a No. S iron at Ice Bag's head; 
whereat Ice Bag explained that he wouldn't take nothing from no 
gentleman, and went home, closely followed by Half Portion. On the 
edge of the green the enemies stood at bay. In the haste of combat 
Basil seized the most inappropriate club, his old dented niblick. 
McGool stepped on his foot, but Basil's iron struck on the dot. The 
ball rolled accurately across, and stopped an inch from the cup. 

It might have been all right, even then, had McGool kept his 
mouth shut. But that satanic mouth writhed beneath the twisted 
moustache and said the thing which no dub, since the birth of golf 
has been able to bear with equanimity. 

'^Never up, never in," he sneered. 

Basil Spillinger saw red. . . . 

* * * 

So the hour of reckoning was at hand ; the case rested with the 
jury. In the Midlothian courthouse there was doomful quiet; the 
sparse spectators had galloped away to follow a rumor that Sandy 
Tannenbaum was losing the match to Alec Stiletto. Alone on the 
classic verandah the girl in pink smoked nervously and tossed lip- 
sticked cigarette butts into the inflammable bushes. The judge was 
in his chambers, reading The Sportsman's Primer, and in an air- 
tight anteroom Basil Spillinger sat among the sheriffs and lawyers. 
The competitive golfer looked into space and the attorney for the 
defense said, "The jury system should be abolished." 

The jury, golfers to the last man and woman of them, spent S 
hours 44.2 minutes in point-to-point discussion. Toward the end 
of the session they sent out a request to see the lethal instrument 
which had supposedly felled Nicodemus McGool at Hole Thirteen. 
The club was sent in to them, and in a very few minutes they filed 
back into the courtroom. Basil Spillinger, summoned again to the 
dock, gazed lock jawed into the face of destiny. The foreman stood 
up, and Basil recognized Archie van Gordon, who had been the 
colony's ruling pro until he was fired for eloping with Midlothian's 
glamor girl. Archie was a golfer to his bones. Basil shuddered. 



Murder at the Thirteenth Hole 807 

"Have you reached a verdict?" asked Judge Lamb in his best 
conversational tone. 

"We have, yer Worrrrrship." Archie van Gordon's voice was 
heavy and thick with doom. "We find the dee-fendant not guilty." 

The judge scratched his head with a fountain pen, leaving a dia- 
gram on his bald spot. 

"Not guilty?" he remarked. "It is not the usual procedure for 
the court to question the jury's decision. But since this is not a — er 
— usual case, I am going to waive precedent and ask you by what 
course of reasoning you have come to your conclusion." 

"Weel, mon, yer Worrrrship," said Archie van Gordon, who had 
learned his Scotch in Omaha, "we conseedered the accused a wee bit 
guilty, ye might say, until we studied the nature of the blood- 
stained club that lay beside the body at Hole Thirteen. Then we 
immediately decided that murrrder was impossible." 

"Impossible?" 

"Aye, yer Worrship. The club was a niblick. And it's well known 
wherrrever golf is played that a niblick is never used on a putting 
green." 

"Quite right!" said Judge Lamb cordially. "Let me thank the 
jurors. The case is dismissed." 

Leaping to freedom, Basil Spillinger couldn't find anybody to 
kiss except the girl in pink. As they raced away arm in arm she 
whispered, "Sugar pie, you don't really think I stopped you there 
in the woods just to spoil your game ! I thought you wanted to talk 
to me. How did I know you had a date to kill a man?" 

"But you don't think I killed him, do you?" he faltered. 

"I'm not blind, darling," she smiled. "I saw you. I've often 
wondered why somebody didn't do it long ago." 

"Hm. But why didn't you testify that you saw it?" 

"Nobody asked me to. Am I supposed to testify when nobody 
asks me?" Her angel face was serene with happiness. 

"Sweetheart," he murmured, "your dumbness strengthens me 
to go back and begin life anew. I want you passionately — let's go 
over and see how the Tannenbaum-Costello match came out." 

Approaching the course, they saw that the match had been 
pla3^ed off. People were going home, making gestures like fancy 
shots. Basil, arm-linked with his fiancee, stopped a group of his old 
club-mates. They should be the first to know. 

"I'm the luckiest man on earth," he proclaimed. "This lovely 



308 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

has promised to marry me, and a jury has just acquitted me of 
murder !" 

"That's nice," said his Hfelong friends listlessly. Then their 
faces brightened to full flame. "Heard the news? Sandy Tannen- 
baum rallied on the Thirteenth and made it in par again !" 



IlUFated Cruhe of the Canarsie III 

Ly Louis Paul 



I RECALL, it went back to the night we gave the party for the Van 
Reynals : one of those meaningless New York soirees at which most 
of the cocktail glasses get broken and a few more holes are burned 
in the rug and one wonders for what earthly purpose one is run- 
ning up huge liquor and delicatessen bills. Dorothea's eyes were 
bloodshot. When the last guest had staggered into the elevator she 
sank wearily back on the chaise longue; the poor kid looked more 
like a heroin addict than the lovely girl she actually is. I ripped 
off my collar and tie and threw them absently into the wastebasket. 

*What," I murmured groggily, thinking of the necessity to get 
up in an hour or so and dash down to the publisher's office where 
I worked, "what, darling, does it all mean ?" 

*'A11 what?" asked Dorothea sleepily. 

^'Everything," I replied, not then quite understanding the im- 
port of my confused thoughts. "You know. Civilization. This — ^well, 
this gay life we are living." 

"You're absolutely right, sweetheart," said Dorothea shrugging. 
"Take off your shoes and go to bed." 

But no. Some peculiar yeast of dissatisfaction was boiling within 
me. It was probably the blood of my pioneer ancestors coming to 
the fore, but at the time I had no way of knowing this. I thought it 
might even be the old-fashioneds. "I'm going to make some coffee 
first," I said and went into the kitchen, where I fiddled about absent- 
mindedly, having completely forgotten what I'd intended to do out 
there. 

Suddenly, like the white blinding flash which they say accom- 
panies inspiration (I had not been bothered much that way per- 
sonally up till then) I understood what my whole life had been 
groping toward. Standing ankle-deep in the kitchen amongst the 
orange skins and broken crockery and cigarette butts, symbols of 
a decadent existence, I knew. I simply knew ! 

Well, we sat there discussing it for hours. Dorothea agreed 
heartily with me that cigarette butts and orange peels were the 
symbolsof a decadent existence, but it was some time before she 

309 



310 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

could get used to the revolutionary plan that had now shaped itself 
in my mind. 

When she understood that we should cut ourselves completely 
clean from our former empty lives, leave civilization behind and 
seek some lovely island paradise where we could live out the years 
in halcyon peacefulness, she took fire from my enthusiasm. 

"But about money, sweetheart.^" she inquired finally, wrinkling 
her brow. 

I explained that in the existence we had decided to embrace 
money was but a remnant of decadent civilization. Let us think 
only of the primitive essentials. We should live as little children, 
eating the products of the rich tropical climate — breadfruit and 
mangoes and yams and papaya and frangipani and whatnot. 
Materialism was the curse that reduced us to the status of slaves. 
And all for what? Defective refrigerators and old-fashioneds. 

How gay we were, then, speculating on the prospect before us ! 
No more foolish parties ; no long, tedious plowing through talentless 
manuscripts; no more overpriced apartments and jangling city 
noises and grubbing for a bare existence. We decided to realize all 
the cash we could and purchase a boat, some seaworthy craft wherein 
we might embark upon our idyllic adventure. I lost no time in 
advising my employees that we had made up our minds to put civili- 
zation behind us forever. They accepted my resignation with rather 
better sportsmanship than I expected. After much excited study 
of maps and charts and atlases and cartographical data we hit on a 
virgin island in the Caribbean. It did not take us long, either, to 
come upon the very boat for our purpose — a thirty-five foot Diesel- 
powered vessel with auxiliary sail, named the Canarsie III, 

I knew little of boats, my only experience in deep water having 
been an overnight hop to Boston from New York. But we borrowed 
of an author friend and studied the works of Conrad, McFee, Bill 
Adams, and others, confident that an intelligence applied in proper 
fashion is better than a lifetime of actual experience divorced of 
aspiration, or something like that. 

It was a fine Saturday morning that we set sail for tropical 
waters. An old fellow at the wharf, with a nasty sort of inquisitive- 
ness, discovered our plans from Dorothea, and mumbled some non- 
sense about passports and clearance papers and sailing certificates. 
He could not know that we were putting such impedimenta of crass 



lU-Fated Cruise of the Canarsie III 311 

civilization behind us. We were adventuring into the unknown ; what 
need had we to bother with the claptrap of bureaucracy ? Our larder 
was well stocked with cheese sandwiches and canned beans and coffee 
and bacon and so on. We had brought along oilskins and sou'westers, 
fishhooks and a copy of Wodehouse, hunting knives and snakebite 
medicine and sun helmets. And, with the knowledge we had acquired 
from Jack London and Dana and O'Neill about storms at sea, we 
were confident that we could ride out any gale or hurricane these 
waters could boast. 

The sun was shining over our port bow ; the wind was blowing 
steadily to wind'ard; I remember my sensation of exultation as I 
stood within the tiny wheelhouse forrard, the spoke gripped firmly 
in my lean fingers, my e3^es glued on the jumping needle within the 
binnacle, an open copy of Bowditch's Navigator before me. Dorothea 
had donned cute white ducks and a cocky sailor's cap. She fussed 
about in the galley, and the smell of burning eggs and bacon came 
forrard to tease my nostrils. The CaTiarsie III drove bravely through 
the choppy seas of the bay, stout of heart and sturdy of beam. 
Was ever inspiration more triumphant than at this happy moment, 
the moment when our dreams were about to be realized ? All that was 
left of the skyscrapers of Manhattan, civilization itself, faded aft 
of us as we hove our course through the open channel that separates 
Brooklyn and the Jersey shore. I glanced down at the open Bow- 
ditch and read : 

"It is assumed that the noon longitude will be sufficiently ac- 
curately known in advance to enable the navigator to correct the 
declination; also the approximate meridian altitude to correct the 
parallax and refraction ; if the latter is not known, it may readily 
be found from the declination and approximate latitude." 

I thought then and there that neither Conrad nor McFee had 
said a word about any necessity to correct the parallax, nor did 
I understand why there should be anything wrong with it in the 
first place. So I let it go. There were other more pressing things 
on my mind. All sight of land had been lost. I had planned to stick 
within sight of the Atlantic coast until I'd mastered this navigation 
business. But somehow the Atlantic coast had got away from me. 
The needle in the compass was pointing sou' by sou' sou'west on the 
stationary dial ; but the bow of the Canarsie III might very well be 
headed toward Nova Scotia for all I knew. My common sense told 



312 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

me it was immaterial where the needle was pointing ; what mattered 
was in what direction the boat was going. 

After reading a few more pages of Bowditch, the vessel mean- 
while bouncing unpleasantly over the whitecaps, I decided that a 
conference with my wife and first mate, as I had laughingly dubbed 
her, would not be amiss. We rejected as leaving too much to chance 
her suggestion that if the weather became appreciably warmer after 
a few days we would know we were correctly heading south. At the 
conclusion of a protracted debate, during which the seas had become 
choppier and choppier, the solution presented itself to me; my in- 
telHgence, sharpened preternaturally by this first stark struggle 
with the elements, convinced me that if the helm were turned about 
in such a fashion as to bring the needle directly north, so that it 
aimed at my stomach, it followed quite logically that the prow of 
the vessel must point exactly in the opposite direction, or dead 
south. I was forcibly struck by the soundness of this reasoning and 
immediately put it into practice. Indeed, as I had found no advice 
in Bowditch on this essential matter I decided, at the first oppor- 
tunity, to type a note to him about this little practical bit of creative 
seamanship. 

Other problems of seamanship absorbed us as the day wore on. 
Someone should have to stand watch all night, though there would 
be very little to watch. We just couldn't go to bed and let the vessel 
drift, however. Dorothea had got somewhat upset by the motion of 
the ship. Frying the bacon had made her, indeed, quite ill. Truth- 
fully, I was not feeling so hot myself. I saw that if we were both to 
be seasick it would seriously interfere with the navigation of the 
Canarsie III, Of course we could lash the helm as Lord Jim or 
somebody had done when the niggers on the Narcissus had mutinied. 
But the prospect was none too enticing. I am afraid that my 
thoughts were, in this extremity, traitorous to our new determina- 
tions. For an instant I felt a sharp pang of regret that we had 
put the symbols of a decadent civilization behind us. In that weak 
moment I longed for a well-iced Orange Blossom. However, I did 
not make my treacherous fancies known to Dorothea. Rather I tried 
to bolster her courage against the future. 

"Marvelous, isn't it, darling?" I smiled manfully. "I wouldn't 
swap our adventure for all the gold in the world." 

"W-w-wonderful, sweetheart," she replied bravely, swallowing 
as the boat bounced recklessly about. 



Ill-Fated Cruise of the Canarsie III 313 

"Just wait until we get to our island paradise. We'll build a 
grass hut with our bare hands and fish for beautiful colored tropical 
fish and run naked, our golden bodies flashing in the sun, and lie 
stretched upon the beach unworried by whether George Gloptig's 
new novel sells five thousand copies or five hundred." 

"Can't you make the boat ride a little smoother, sweetheart.^" 
asked Dorothea, rather naively, I thought. But I loved her for it. 

"Perhaps we can run in and out of the different islands and 
trade copra or something with the natives," I told her cheerily. 
"Just to kill time, you know. They've always called me a shrewd 
trader at the office. Remember that time I got Henry Wadsworth 
Smith, the guy who wrote the book on Dynamic Dialectics, to take 
five per cent on the first fifty thousand?" 

"Yes, sweetheart. That'll be lovely. But — well, couldn't we turn 
back and start out some day when it isn't quite so rough?" 

"Here," I said, being something of a psychologist — in an ama- 
teur way, of course. "You take the wheel for a while." I was sure 
that if her attention were diverted for a time the joy in our splendid 
odyssey must reassert itself. On top of that I just couldn't stand 
up straight another moment. I turned the watch over to her and 
promptly went aft and dizzily threw myself upon my bunk. I re- 
fused to give up. Naturally we should feel the tug of civilization 
drawing us at times. But we must master it. We must expunge it 
from our system. We — I just had time to make the rail. When I 
returned I felt as though quite everything, including civilization, 
had been expunged from my system. 

I do not know just how long I lay in a hazy sort of coma on my 
bunk ; Dorothea's cries penetrated my consciousness and I leapt up. 
Darkness had fallen over the sea. The sky was a Stygian blanket 
that blotted out my vision. 

I was awed and mystified by man's puny insignificance when 
pitted against the unfathomable elements. The brave little craft 
was no longer slung about by the choppy, broken waves. Instead 
she skidded in long, running lunges, the ground swells spinning 
her up on her beam ends, then sucking her down into what seemed 
like bottomless wells. I felt as though I'd got caught in an elevator 
that was running wild inside a building designed by a maniac. 
Dorothea was sitting on the wheelhouse floor. The helm was spinning 
crazily. 



814 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"Doesn't man's puny insignificance when pitted against the un- 
fathomable elements awe you, darling?" 

"I thought you had died," she said reprovingly, ignoring my 
question. "I sat down for some reason that I don't remember now, 
and I can't get up. Isn't there a dial or lever you can set to make 
the boat stand up straight?" 

Grasping the wheel I reassured her. I was getting my sea legs. 
I welcomed the opportunity to defy the magnificent fury of nature. 
"Everything'll be under control in a moment," I added. 

"Well, help me up, can't you?" 

In spite of the marvelous control I was exercising over myself 
my patience in this situation almost deserted me. "If I let go of 
the damned thing we'll turn over and dive to the bottom," I shouted. 
"You've got to sit some place, anyhow. Do you realize," I demanded, 
"that we are in for a blow? Probably a sou'wester, or a nor'easter. 
This is the sort of thing that tests a man's manhood." 

"So what?" said Dorothea, and I detected a trace, the merest 
soup^on, of annoyance in her voice. 

The Canarsie III lifted lightly in the air, then roller-coasted 
straight downward for half a mile ; in the trough of the huge black 
seas she was all but engulfed. The wind howled unmercifully. The 
stout little craft tossed frenziedly in the sheer darkness as though 
it were an eggshell in a pot of boiling coffee. Sea stories invariably 
had the Old Man shorten canvas when weathering a blow, but as 
the Canarsie III had no sails up, this didn't seem to be much use 
as an emergency measure. I hung on to the plunging vessel with one 
hand and turned Bowditch with the other, hoping to strike some 
sage bit of advice. All I could read was, "The Northern Equatorial 
Current originates to the northward of the Cape Verde Islands." 
That wasn't much good. 

Meanwhile Dorothea had somehow managed to clamber to her 
feet. There was a worried expression on her countenance. "Look, 
sweetheart," she murmured as a chart on the wall came loose and 
blew through the door and into the swirling sea, "suppose our oil 
runs out and we can't get back to land." 

"Don't fret about that," I advised her confidently. "All we have 
to do is run up a tops'le and a couple of halliards and so forth 
and tack in." 

"Tack?" 

"Sure. Just run before the wind." 



lU-Fated Cruise of the Canarsie III 315 

"Oh. I think I'd rather run after it. I've been reading McFee 
mostly, and he's an engineer, so I wouldn't know about tops'les. 
But I was thinking that if we don't know what direction to tack 
in what good is it?" 

"Well," I calmed her, "we've got enough supplies to last a 
couple of days — a couple of months the way my stomach feels just 
now," I joked. "By that time I'll know this Bowditch backwards. 
Never you fret, darling." 

"I know, but we may be floating in the middle of the Atlantic 
Ocean by then," she sighed. "Maybe we should have mastered Bow- 
ditch before we put the decadent symbols of civilization behind us." 

"You've got that a little wrong, darling," I said, always a stick- 
ler for accuracy. "The symbols of a decadent civ — " 

The Canarsie III drove herself with a stunning shock against 
some huge, black looming shape ; there was a splintering crash and 
I was thrown against the opposite wall of the wheelhouse. My senses 
reeled. My first thought was that we had run down the lie de 
France, followed by the conviction that we'd piled up on Cape 
Hatteras. Dorothea sat supinely in a corner, a puzzled frown 
spreading over her features. At last I took courage to make my way 
up the slanting deck in order to view the situation ; we might have 
time to don lifebelts and fling ourselves overboard before the craft 
settled to the bottom. If we had collided with a liner she would 
probably lay to and pick us up before we drowned. 

The black looming shape carried a row of steady yellow lights. 
When I had blinked my eyes for a moment I made out what looked 
like a long pointed metal superstructure. Dorothea had followed 
me. 

"Say," she said delightedly, "this doesn't make me mad at all !" 

I shook my head, still dizzy from the impact. I wondered what 
nonsense she was talking. Here we were about to drown at sea, 
and — and then I saw what we had run into. Beyond the struc- 
ture the familiar skyline of Manhattan was dotted with its myriad 
twinkling lights. We had been dashed up on one of the new Staten 
Island piers. ... 

We are now studying Bowditch assiduously. Some day we shall 
sail away to our island paradise in the Caribbean, there to laze in 
the sun-drenched tropics. Our opinion of decadent civilization is 
unchanged. Maybe we just need a bigger boat. 



The Battle of Blue Trout Basin 

Ly Nelson S. Bona 



For the hundredth time my line looped out gracefully, knotted, 
backlashed, and fell a good six feet short of the mark for which I 
was casting. As I started to reel it in, grimly, I heard a sympathetic 
clucking from the fence that bordered on the roadside. 

"Listen, guy," I said to the stranger watching me, *'if you 
think you can do any better, come on in here and try it!" 

With surprising alacrity he hopped the fence and took the rod 
from my hands. He balanced it daintily, lovingly, and nodded his 
head in approval. 

"Very nice, sir," he said approvingly. *'Very nice equipment, 
indeed. But if I might be permitted to show you — " 

He cast. His movement was smooth, liquid, flowing. Like a coil 
of rippling light the line flew out in a beautiful arc . . . tip-poised 
for an instant over the distant mark . . • then slithered back 
toward where I stood gaping. 

"Marvelous!" I gasped. "How — ^how do you do it?" 

"The wrist. It's all in the wrist movement." He tapped my own 
aching member with a lean forefinger. "So many try to snap it here. 
You must roll it — that's the secret." 

I tried it. Just as he had said, the secret lay in the proper roll 
and timing. My own cast flicked out — not so good as his, but good 
enough for me — and touched the corner of the mark. 

"Well, I'll be damned!" I said. "Say — how would you like to 
come fishing with me some time? I could learn plenty from a master 
like you." 

He sighed heavily. In the dusk I thought I saw two great tears 
well from his faded blue eyes. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but I really 
couldn't. You see — I don't fish any more." 

"You don't jish any more !" 

"Never," he said dolefully, "since I fished the wonderful Blue 
Trout Basin." 

"Blue Trout Basin?" I repeated. "I never heard of it. But 
what — " An almost wistful expression on his face stopped me. 

"It's a long story," he choked, "and a sad one. I used to love 

316 



I 



The Battle of Blue Trout Basin 317 

fishing — probably even more than you do. I went everywhere to try 
my hand and luck against finny warriors. I fished the backhills of 
Kentucky, the icy streams of INIaine, the sluggish brooks of Pennsyl- 
vania. My name was on the lists of every major fishing club from 
Florida to Washington. I even had a fly named after me — never mind 
which one. There is no greater honor, sir, for a true son of Izaak 
Walton. 

"It was upon one of my trips that I discovered the Blue Trout 
Basin. Never mind which state I was in. Let us merely say that 
it is a land of trout and salmon. A fisherman's Mecca. And there, 
by chance, I came upon a pool hidden deep in a wooded dell. No 
local fisherman had ever mentioned it, so it was with the faintest 
hope of a kill that I cast out over its dark, sullen waters. 

"Imagine my surprise, then, when my very first cast was greeted 
with a strike that shot up along my arm like an electric bolt ! For 
an instant I was stupefied — then instinct came to my rescue, and 
with all the caution and canniness that years of experience had 
taught me, I began to play what I was certain was a giant trout." 
"And was it?" I asked eagerly. 

The stranger gazed at me somberly. "I landed him," he said 
slowly, "in exactly two minutes !" 

"Tt^o minutes!''' I exclaimed. "Why, that's impossible! Fifteen 
. . . twenty minutes . . ." 

"I know," mourned the old man. "That's what I thought, too. 
But I was wrong. In two minutes, I had landed my first trout in the 
Blue Trout Basin. Inside of half an hour my creel was groaning 
with a dozen more. In an hour's time I had two gaffs, a creel, and my 
lunch basket jammed with three dozen blue trout — none of them 
less than twelve inches long ! 

"Now that I look back on it, I wonder that I didn't see the truth 
immediately. At the time, all I could think was that I had inadver- 
tently stumbled upon a fisherman's Paradise — that more luck was 
mine than any Waltonite deserves. 

"I finally began to understand when I noticed that it was get- 
ting increasingly difficult to walk on the bottom of the little pool. 
The bottom, sir, was slippery. When I looked down to learn why, 
I saw that the pool was covered — absolutely covered — with layer 
upon layer of fish! And those fish, sir — those fish were waiting in 
line to take my lures r"" 

A sob broke the old stranger's voice. 



318 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

"You may believe it or not, sir," he wailed, "but once I broke my 
leader in that accursed pool. When I drew in my line to replace 
it, I found a trout hanging on the end of the line ^dth the cord 
drawn tight around his neck! That fish had deliberately hanged 
himself !" 

My visitor pulled up one trouser leg, disclosing a jagged, semi- 
circular scar on his calf. 

"That," he whimpered, "is where one of those demon trout bit 
me. That was when I tried to get out of the pool. I had caught 
enough to satisfy even my inordinate lust for killing — but those 
trout wouldn't let me go. They built a bulwark of solid fish-flesh 
about my legs, hemming me in so I couldn't move an inch! Two 
of the larger and stronger ones jumped right into my haversack. 
I tried to throw away my rod, but three fish impaled themselves on 
it before it left my hand! And I found three large trout, later, in 
one of my bootlegs!" 

"But listen — " I began angrily. 

He wiped an arm across his streaming eyes. "You see, sir," he 
said piteously, "those fish wanted to be caught! They were wear}^ 
of life and determined to commit suicide. That's why they called 
that pool the ^Blue Trout Basin.' Everybod}^ in those parts knows 
about the fish, and won't go after them. So when a stranger gets 
in the pool, the trout just go crazy. They won't let him go until 
he catches all of them !" 

"So you," I said scornfully, "caught them all, I suppose.?" 

He looked at me with pain-racked eyes. Slowly he backed away 
into the gathering darkness. His voice, aged and melancholy, 
floated back to me from the gloom of the roadside. 

"No, sir!" he wailed. "I never did get away from those fish. 
By sheer weight of numbers they pulled me down. Up there in the 
Blue Trout Basin, sir — I drowned !" 

I went in the house. Quickly. 



Pielder^B Choice 

ty EaAvara L. McKenna 



It was seldom enough that Charles J. Horton went to see a ball- 
game. He worked for the Third National, and from the beginning 
he had taught himself to remember that although a bank closes at 
three o'clock it doesn't pay to rush right off as soon as your books 
for the day are finished. No ; you stay right on, making yourself 
useful and noticeable to your superiors. You're painfully careful 
about everything, and you never make an error. You take the ex- 
tension courses at the University, even though you already have a 
Phi Beta Kappa key from the little school up-state. You attend 
the lectures given by the Institute of Banking. You carry the Wall 
Street Journal, or the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, and you 
read magazines that cost at least thirty-five cents. You pay some 
attention to your appearance, shaving each morning after your 
cold shower and your setting-up exercises, and your habit is costly 
as your purse can buy. You economize on beggars and waiters, 
and live at your college club, where the food is so bad it reminds 
you of the old fraternity-house. Still, you get the stationery for 
nothing, and it gives you a certain cachet, or so you imagine. Your 
favorite book is your own bankbook, and you put by a little every 
month. You don't get married, and you're otherwise thrifty, neither 
drinking nor smoking nor going on parties, because if you really 
feel the need of recreation, can't you go to the movies or a theatre 
or a good restaurant all by yourself? You're really much better 
than most other people, and you've determined to get on, and so, 
perhaps, you wiU. 

The program was working well enough for Charlie Horton. At 
twenty-eight, he was out of a teller's cage, and back of a desk and 
on the slow road to fortune. He had subordinates to whom he could 
be distant and severe, and two thousand dollars in his savings ac- 
count, and a few good bonds, though he carried no life-insurance 
whatsoever. 

So, on this bright Saturday afternoon he was sitting behind 
first base, among people he rather disliked, and watching the acro- 
batics of eighteen athletes for whom, as individuals, he felt a faint 

319 



320 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

contempt. One of them he knew, though he hadn't spoken to him 
for years. They'd gone to school together, Joe Marchand had been 
a popular hero, and Charlie Horton had been almost nobody. 

Joe Marchand was more or less a popular hero still, though most 
experts agreed that he was slipping a little. He played right field 
for the Eagles, and had batted .342 last season. His arm was still 
all right, but he wasn't so fast in the field or on the bases. That was 
to be expected. He was almost thirty. 

Joe had never finished high-school. When he was seventeen, 
he was picking up a few dollars playing semi-professional ball, and 
then he played two seasons for Scranton and one in the Southern 
League. Somebody saw him down there, and picked up his contract, 
and ever since then he'd been in the big money. There'd been seasons 
when he'd made eight and ten thousand. It was generally understood 
that he wasn't getting anything like that any more, but Joe never 
said so. Whatever it was, he never saved a cent more than enough 
to take him and his wife and his three kids through the winter. 

Outside of his family, the things Joe liked best were baseball, 
close harmony, and twenty-five-cent-limit draw. He had always been 
crazy about playing ball, crazy about every sort of sport, every 
sort of game. Boxing, horse-racing, ice-hockey, hunting, fishing, 
cards, dice, billiards, and even golf fascinated him always. He wasn't 
a drinking man, and he didn't chase around, but he did like to 
gamble, and to watch games, and to play them. 

He weighed a hundred and ninety pounds, and his face and neck 
and hands looked as if they'd been dipped in some brown stain. 
After a game they'd won, or on the Pullman, or back at the hotel, 
he and Art Herman and Petey Grant would start harmonizing. 
Joe had a barytone voice, not nearly so good as he imagined, but 
he knew a thousand songs all full of barber-shop and pleasing senti- 
ment, and he never forgot a new wow, a new combination of con- 
fluent chords. Songs in which there were two separate and distinct 
first-tenor parts w^ere his delight. 

The only people he disliked in all the world were fresh fans 
and fresh bushers, and even the bushers soon got used to Joe, and 
the fans didn't ride him, as a rule. Anyhow, he played in right field. 
Nobody took him too seriously, except left-handers ; he could mur- 
der them. His one great weakness was this : he was a bad waiter. 
When the count was two and two, unless he had a signal, he'd be 
apt to take a crack at the next one, whatever it was, for to be called 



I 



Fielder's Choice 321 

out on strikes without swinging just ruined his afternoon. Also, 
it did not give him much pleasure to knock one into the infield, even 
though he scratched a hit out of it. Joe liked to sock them. From his 
first days in the league it was his great delight to watch the fielders 
playing deep for him, dropping back toward the fence and the 
bleachers when he walked out toward the plate. He wasn't a scien- 
tific hitter, but he certainly could lean on them. 

He'd helped to win two pennants ; this year, the Eagles weren't 
even in the first division. That didn't worry him or any of them. 
They were playing away, in a big town they liked, against the lead- 
ers of the league, and the Eagles didn't think so much of them, 
outside of their pitchers. It was a doubleheader, and the games 
made a difference in the league's standing, though not to them. 
Ever^^body felt pretty good. Contenders who amount to anything 
alwa^^s like a crack at the champion, whether they beat him or 
not. Forty thousand people were out there to watch them, to jeer 
them in a pleasant enough sort of way, with the good-natured con- 
tempt of victors, even vicarious ones. It was August, the sun was 
nice, and not too bright, and the dry, scorched grass was good to 
feel beneath their feet. Some of them were kids, with years before 
them, some of them were on their way out, like Joe. Anyhow, they 
had this fine long summer afternoon. 

The thing happened, in the beginning of the fourth. 

Joe was coaching a runner on first, so he was nearest to it. 
He heard all the noise, the screaming, and turned around, and 
peered up at the stands behind him. 

Just back of first base, the crowds were giving way to right 
and left, pushing and leaping. A sea of people was surging in 
each direction, and seats were breaking beneath them as they went, 
but there was almost nowhere for them to go. Out into the aisles 
they came, and fell upon those seated in the next section, and that 
in turn went rolling onward till the next aisle was reached. There 
was the crashing and creaking of rotted timber, the snap of arms 
of broken chairs, the thin sharp yelp of men in fear. 

The first-base stand was collapsing. 

"Hi !" shouted Joe. "Hi ! Come on, you guys." With that, he 
went into the falling stand. 

He didn't know quite what he was going to do. All he knew 
was that he was going where the trouble was, to do his best. There 



S^^ Esquire^s Second Sports Header 

weren't man}^ followed him. A few policemen charged into that 
stand, too. Cops haven't much sense either. 

There was a pretty bad fifteen minutes or so in there. Maybe 
it was onl}' ten, maybe it was only five. It didn't turn out to be 
so serious. Only a little part of the stands had actually fallen. 
Twenty-two people were killed, and about a hundred injured, not 
counting scratches, and black eyes, and torn clothing, and nervous 
systems somewhat impaired, or strengthened. Some five thousand 
men had looked suddenly upon the face of death. It leered at 
them, and as quickly turned away, and it only cost them a dollar 
apiece, and a bruise or two. 

Joe came out of it all right, except that his right arm felt 
sort of funny. He hunched his shoulder up and around; it still 
felt funny. "Wonder how I got that.^" he said to himself. He 
wouldn't have known. He'd made three or four trips into the mid- 
dle of it, yelling and cursing, and pushing and pulling, and try- 
ing to do whatever he could. He remembered getting one man out 
from underfoot; the Record said he got three. 

The shoulder was dislocated, he found that out at the club- 
house. "Tough luck, Joe," they said. "Ah, a coupla weeks," he 
said, to them, but to himself he said, "That's curtains. That's 
curtains." 

It wasn't curtains. He played ball again, plenty of it. What 
was more, the owner of the club came to the hotel, the next day, 
with a copy of the Record in his hand. 

"This true.^" he said. 

"No. It's my press-agent," said Joe. 

"My daughter was in that stand," said the owner. 

Joe looked at him. 

"You go in there, you have no call to go in. You cripple your- 
self, for the sake of other people. All right. You got a job with 
this club, as long as I'm in baseball. Bum wing, or no bum wing. 
You hear me.?" 

"Yeah," said Joe. "Your — your daughter 0. K..?" 

"Yes. She's 0. K.," said the owner. His name was, and is, Ben 
Siegal, and he is known to all the world as a soft-hearted, hot- 
headed sentimental slob who'd rather lose money in baseball than 
make it brewing beer. 

There's a line in that Record story that Joe has never no- 
ticed. Under "Dead" there is this: Horton, Charles J. 28. Bank 
clerk, employed by Third National Bank. 



The Atavhm of Ralph Phcatore 

ty Rotert J. Kunn 



He was born in the third month, under the sign of Pisces, and 
his name was Piscatore. Italian descent, they say, but a third-gen- 
eration American. Ralph Piscatore was a lonely man. 

Why he should have been lonel}^ is hard to say. The depths of 
a man's soul are often as impenetrable as the ocean deeps. And 
the soul of Ralph Piscatore was a troubled thing, not to be 
soothed by the caresses of his wife, nor diverted by her ceaseless 
harangues. Piscatore walked the earth with a heavy tread, and 
his business associates feared him. For this man was set apart. 

Now in the third month of a certain year, Ralph Piscatore 
did a strange thing. He left the home in vdiich he had watched 
his wife raise three sturdy children, and took them to a new home 
far to the south, on a spit of land in the State of Florida, near 
to the Gulf of Mexico. He had caused a home to be built on the 
edge of the blue-green water, and here, under the fierce-friendly 
sun of the semi-tropics, Ralph Piscatore found peace. 

The peace he found was in the water. In the strong salt spray 
of the southern sea, Piscatore found tonic for his spirit. He was a 
big man, not Italian in grace, and had trouble with his feet. But 
in the water his powerful shoulders found their use, and he cut 
through the breakers with long, swift strokes. The battle against 
rough water was exhilaration; floating in the calm was peace. He 
let the water surge over and around him. He let it lull him to 
quietude. 

Love of the sea became set in the mind of Ralph Piscatore. 
It obsessed his mind, drove him to build an aquarium into the walls 
of his home, that he might study the movements of fish and other 
sea creatures. There was a purpose in him, though he never spoke 
of it. He ignored his wife and studied his fish, for they could teach 
him how to swim. 

Hour by hour he studied their movements ; then he would lum- 
ber into the ocean to contort his muscles in futile imitation. Though 
he could not imitate the fish, no man in the land could swim as well 
as Ralph Piscatore. This he knew, and reveled in the knowledge. 

323 



324 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

More and ever more of his time he gave to the water, and less 
to his obhgations on land. Day after day he went out for his swim, 
and he would remain for hours. As his wife's fears for her children's 
security increased, she berated him more fiercely; and Piscatore 
would turn to the water for surcease. He swam the surface, crawled 
along the bottom and disported himself in the waves. He found 
happiness there, and his fixation grew. In time he began to hate 
to come out, even to come up for air. And so he would hold his 
breath until he reeled under the hammer-blows of his heart ; and 
gradually he developed great lung power. The day came when 
Ralph Piscatore could imitate his fish under water for several 
minutes at a time. 

Now on his natal day, in the third month of the last year, 
Ralph left his home and walked to the edge of the water. He shed 
his trunks and waded through the shallows, then launched himself 
out toward the Gulf Stream. He swam for several minutes, till he 
found his favorite spot, and he dove deep and clung to a projecting 
rock. 

It was here that he often found pleasure, for certain fish had 
grown accustomed to this man's presence and ignored him. Ralph 
Piscatore could watch them in midst of life, not captive in a man- 
built tank. Watch them he did, on liis natal day in the third month 
of the last year. Watch them until he lost track of time, forgot 
his bursting lungs and need for air; forgot his need to cling to 
the rock, and he followed them in their quest for food. 

How did this come to pass? Ralph Piscatore was not aware. 
So absorbed was he that the hours swam by and the sun long crossed 
the meridian. And all the while, Ralph Piscatore sat under water 
and watched the fishes. 

A multicolored sea cow passing above his head caused Pisca- 
tore to look up, that he might see it well. And as he looked, his 
mind took note of the fact that no bursts of air were bubbling from 
his nostrils. No pressure forced his body toward the surface; no 
pain racked at his lungs. This man who loved so well the graceful 
fish was now at ease among them. His heart beat was steady; his 
lungs content. Por through his ears seeped air-filled water; and 
the atavistic fish gills of the third embryonic month were function- 
ing smoothly, as did those of his ancient fish-mammal forbears ten 
thousand generations before. 

The shock of such discovery made Piscatore giddy, but this 



The Atavism of Ralph Piscatore 325 

soon passed. He was eager to accept this miracle, for he consid- 
ered it nothing less. Piscatore laughed aloud, but no sound carried 
through the water. He flung himself forward and down, toward 
a coral reef that had always been beyond his reach. As he ap- 
proached the rock, a gentle muscular twist swerved him gracefully 
up and over; spreading his arms, he halted his forward movement 
and came to rest directly above the reef. 

A grey shrimp, sensing the shadow above it, scurried under 
the rock. Piscatore was pleased by the tribute. He twisted do\NTi 
along the ocean bed and investigated a large cavern he found in 
the coral. Refracted sunlight created a dim haze within. The at- 
mosphere reminded Piscatore of a smoke-filled night club — and 
the cave was equally crowded. Even the activities of the fish were 
reminiscent: males pursued, and females tried, not too hard, to 
escape. The cavern evidently was a favorite spawning place. Pisca- 
tore studied the coral shelving, the sea worms in the walls. He idled 
beside fat sunfish and avoided the eels. He noticed a passing sea 
trout, which bore a marked resemblance to his younger son. The 
same disdainful expression ; a kind of shocked superiority. Ralph 
grinned. He wondered if he could mention it to his wife. 

Come to think of it, would she even believe all this had hap- 
pened? No. His friends? They would have him in an asylum within 
twenty-four hours. 

This was a sea horse of another color! The situation called for 
serious consideration. 

And as he pondered, there passed along his spine a quiver of 
fear — some atavistic instinct, reinstigated by his new environment. 
Without hesitation he flung his body sharply to the left, just in 
time to avoid the lunge of a blue-nosed shark. Inertia carried the 
shark forward a few feet ; it turned and lunged again. 

Piscatore found his bulk a handicap in the comparatively shal- 
low waters around the coral reef. His new-found agility was strained 
by the vital test. Cornered, he held himself ready and timed his 
turns like a matador in the bull ring; for were he to dodge too 
soon, the shark could swerve in time to run him down. Desper- 
ately he sought some avenue of escape. Direct flight was out of the 
question, for fast as Piscatore could swim, the shark was faster. 

Evening had begun to cast greying mists through the water 
before the fight was done. Once, when a close lunge left the shark's 
body unguarded, Piscatore flung his full weight against the fish. 



3^6 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

cutting the shark's belly on the coral reef. Thereafter, the shark 
made one more feeble attack, suddenly tired, and left the scene. 
The dimming light hid from Piscatore the trail of blood that oozed 
and blended with the water, but a saline sensation in his gills irri- 
tated him, and he fled. From out of a clear blue sea came sharks 
and barracuda, smelling blood, to finish the wounded shark. 

Slowly then did the man named Piscatore swim toward the shore. 
For the first time he realized clearly the dangers of his new life, 
as well as its pleasures. Yet within him pulsed the pleasure-beat of 
conquest ; he had done well. 

And now he was tired. He had earned his rest, and he looked for- 
ward to an evening before the open fire, a hot supper and a warm 
bed. Even the rasp of his wife's voice he could recall with pleasure. 
She would nag him for his unexplained absence, but he could afford 
to smile. He might even take her. That, too, would be good. 

He swam directly onto the sandbar that shelved gently into the 
beach, and when the water was barely deep enough to cover him, 
he started to emerge. 

But this day of miracles had not ended for Ralph Piscatore. 
For as he lifted his head from the water, a strange thing came to 
pass : he could not breathe. 

Under the protective waves once more, he sucked the water 
through his gills, and gave oxygen to his aching lungs. He tried not 
to think; not to fear; and once again he lifted his head out into 
the air . . . and almost strangled. He could not breathe the air he 
sucked in, for it was foreign to his body. The atavism of Ralph Pis- 
catore was complete, and only the functioning gills of the third em- 
bryonic month could serve his need for oxygen. He fell back into 
the water like a man stunned. 

Long did he remain near the shore of his home. Lifting his 
head, he could see the lighted windows of his study, and his wife's 
silhouette as she peered out anxiously. In time she caused a search- 
ing party to put forth a boat, from which they cast nets. Ralph 
Piscatore swam slowly out to sea when they came his way, for 
he knew now that he was lost to dry earth, and capture would 
mean only death. Fear was in him, and sadness, too. Yet another 
thing as well : a sense of relief. But this was buried deep, and he gave 
the night over to mourning. 

Rather than face facts, he sought to deny them. And so, in 
terror, he told himself that this was all no more than a madman's 



^he Atavism of Ralph Piscatore 32*7 

dream, brought about by passion for the sea and its creatures. This 
lie repeated to himself until he was lulled beyond fear, and hunger 
drove him to hunt for the grey shrimps that have shining eyes in 
the dark. 

And so the night passed, and when dawn came, the black shad- 
ows crept swiftly back and down, into the depths of the sea. And 
with the coming of sunlight, hope reflamed in the heart of Piscatore. 
Hope of returning to his old way of life was gone, and with it went 
regret. Alread}^ memory of his life on dry earth was beginning to 
fade, for the sea takes care of its own. And Ralph Piscatore was 
soon too occupied in his new life to consider long the old. 

A new sense of freedom broke his bonds with the past ; he real- 
ized his power. Now it was given to one man and to one man alone 
to ken the secrets of the sea. No limit of time or space shackled his 
study. His powerful body swept rhythmically along with the ebb 
tide, and he sought the ocean deeps. No more would Ralph Pis- 
catore stumble over clods of earth ; no longer would he be content 
with the shallows. His were the depths of the ocean, where pres- 
sure was a comfortable thing and the world existed in three dimen- 
sions. 

This, perhaps, was the essential difference. For while on land, 
Piscatore moved forward and back, and occasionally sideways, rarely 
was he concerned with height or depth. Yet in the ocean, as in the 
sky, the three dimensions were co-equal. Not only was Piscatore 
free to move forward, down, back, sideways and up, but every move- 
ment was a combination or variation of all. 

He revelled in his prowess, and would fling himself upwards and 
out, then dive fast, whirl on himself and shoot forward like a bullet. 

After such play he would rest quietl}^, deep within the comfort- 
able nest that is the under-ocean, deep enough to rest upon the 
pressure below and around him, with every muscle gently upheld. 
There he could float, more completely relaxed than is possible 
for any creature outside the sea. 

Rested, he would hunger, and life immediately became a quest, 
a vital game. No more did Ralph Piscatore search for the unclean 
grey shrimp or the filth-loving crab. Clean, sleek, full-bodied 
fishes in the swiftness of life were his sustenance now, and he sought 
them out in schools and alone. Black sea bass he sought; blue- 
fish, snapper and jack ; chiro, snook and salt water trout. He stalked 
them like game; was often hungry and rarely sated. 



328 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Now it came to pass, in the present year, that a fishing vessel was 
put to sea ; and in it rode determined happy men. And when they 
found themselves far out to sea, deep within the Gulf Stream, they 
cast forth lines and caused many small fishes to be taken into the 
boat. These they lamed, by deft splitting of fins; and cruel steel 
barbs were passed through each fish's body, where they caused pain, 
but not death ; and where they could not be seen. The two and five 
pound fishes were then set free, at the end of a long line, and swam 
slowly back and forth, dying. The happy, determined men smiled 
at each other, and called the dying fishes "bait." Good bait. A 
hungry shark took one, tore his snout on the hook, and disap- 
peared. The fishermen waited patiently, and baited another hook. 

Thus it was that Ralph Piscatore, intent upon his hunger, came 
upon a small school of fishes idling to and fro beneath and be- 
yond the shadow of a boat. Seeing him approach, the}^ darted away. 
Piscatore circled cautiously. The boat he recognized as belonging to 
a former neighbor in the town called St. Petersburg, in the State 
of Florida. He was called by the name of Hebbard. Piscatore had 
hated him, because he carried on him the smell of fish that are 
dead. A spasm of that hatred and fear passed along Piscatore's 
spine, and he swam swiftly away, almost a quarter mile. 

It was then that he noticed a lone red snapper resting almost 
directly in his path. His hunger swept away all thought of the 
boat and men, far behind, and he flung himself toward the small 
fish. The snapper saw him come, and strove frantically to avoid the 
rush. But his clipped fins weakened, and Piscatore took him in a 
single gulp. 

The steel hook was embedded in Piscatore's belly before he was 
aware of it. The rush which captured the snapper for him had 
carried him on almost fifty yards before the barb tore into the lining 
of his stomach and brought to him the taste of his own blood. Then a 
mighty jerk brought his rush to a stop, and he became aware of the 
heavy cord that fed into his mouth and down his throat, and the 
agony in his belly wiped out all thought. 

After the preliminary rushes, which failed to dislodge the em- 
bedded hook, Piscatore tried to seize the cord and break it, but he 
was helpless. Somehow he could not bring his arms forward into 
position to seize the line. He tried to snap it with his teeth, but it 
was too strong. The blood bubbled up through his throat and he 



The Atavism of Ralph Piscatore 329 

dove for the bottom in frenzy. Down and down he plunged, the line 
tearing open the corner of his mouth ; yet he would not stop. 

He would not stop, until he was stopped ; until the line drew taut 
and held him, and a spasm of pain drew the blood from his eyes, and 

his stomach came loose inside with a sickening tear. 

* * * 

Time is a player of tricks. It does not move by the clock: it 
speeds or dawdles, according to the situation, and man-made clocks 
can only strike an average. 

How long was it, then, that Piscatore fought for his life? How 
long, but a lifetime? Only this could it be, and the hours mean 
nothing. He fought with his belly, with his muscles, his lungs 
and his back. He plunged and struggled up to the very last mo- 
ment when the steel gaff was plunged into his chest, and he felt 
his hot heart-blood gush from his side out into the dark blue foam- 
flecked water. This was his last conscious memory, before the dark- 
ness closed in : the look of the water, dark blue, there in the Gulf 
Stream, slipping away below him as he was hauled aboard the fish- 
ing boat. 

And in the boat the determined men were happy, arid they 
laughed, and slapped Frank Hebbard on the back and shoulders, 
for his, they said, was surely a prize catch, indeed: a blue marlin, 
of uncommon proportions and unquestionable courage. 



Beware the Tremper Buck 

bj Eamuna Gilli^an 



At noon a white gale came blustering through Stony Clove, scour- 
ing clouds of shining crystals off the frozen drifts. An hour later, 
a new snowfall began and soon the peaks and timbered summits 
of the Catskills vanished in a welter of flakes. 

The great buck, wandering far up the slope of Wittenberg, 
moved deeper into the pine forest. His antlers clashed against the 
green boughs. Hunger kept him uneasy, a hunger close to famine. 
He had wintered poorly. His rich autumn fat had gone from his 
ribs and his coat had lost its brightness. The hair of it stuck out 
drily here and there and a rusty patch spoiled the splendid curve 
of his haunches. 

He panted and groaned. He thrust his mouth into the bed of 
pine needles and coughed over the dry, tasteless browse. He stopped 
in an open space and let his head hang low, as if he had no strength 
to hold up the beautiful spread of antlers. He sagged there a little 
while, then pushed his way into the lee of a fallen hemlock, where 
he waited, snuffing the wind. 

At twilight, when the snowfall ceased, the deer walked wearily to 
the tumbledown farm below the forest. He tossed his head upward 
against the boughs of an apple tree. A russet apple, scarred and 
frozen, thudded into the snow. He rolled it out with his lips and 
let it lie. He pawed into the snow and turned up a rift of dry grass. 
There he thrust his muzzle and heaved until he routed out a sound 
apple, well preserved in a tuft. He ate it, tore savagely at the dull 
grass and champed his dry, famished jaws. 

. A rifle shot echoed on the southern slope. He turned his ears 
that way, then walked through the orchard and leaped the stone 
fence of a bullpen at the side of a ruined barn. There, sighing and 
snuffing, he searched in shallow snow under the eaves, where he had 
often found good suppers of sweet hay and clover on days like 
these. He butted his head in anger against the rotting eaves. He 
suddenly wheeled, climbed into a breach where frost had thrown 
the wall, and rammed his forefeet into the hard drift there. He 
looked down into the Clove. Lights shone in the cottages of the Vly. 

330 



Beware of the Tremper Buck 331 

Below him, where the mountain joined the valley, the chimney of 
the hunting lodge sent sparks slanting into the dusk. The buck, a 
bronzelike mass against the sky, held his head out straight and 
blew. His loud snort sharpened into a long, whistling blast. 

His call ran pell-mell in and out of the caverns, speed in many 
echoes over the drifts, and beat against the windows of the lodge, 
where the hunters sat by a hearth red with embers. One of the 
hunters, the ancient and honorable Grandfather Doonan, walked 
impatiently up and down the hearthside, striking his hard hands 
together in angry vexation. Despite his silvery hair, the old lad 
was as slim and strong as a boy of twenty and could stay on the 
bear's trail longer than most men. He could think faster than any 
man in the Catskills, but tonight his thoughts, which were with the 
great buck in the barren snow, were not satisfying him. 

When the deer's signal cut through the sifting noise of blowing 
snow, Gaffer Doonan once more struck his hands together, then 
held up his right hand in warning. He turned his troubled, frosty- 
blue eyes toward the window. "Did you hear that, Jan.? Did you 
hear it, Fahim.'^" 

Jan, grandson to the old sportsman and a lively chip off the 
Doonan block, lifted his red-thatched head from the rifle barrel 
on his knees. And Fahim, who had long since abandoned Turkey 
and its fleshpots to follow Gaffer on the Catskill trails, nodded his 
swarthy head. He looked out through the wintry pane. 

Gaffer gave his spiky moustache an angry tweak. "It's the old 
one all right. It's the Tremper Buck. His father taught him to 
whistle like that. Ten to one — he's browsing around in the old bull 
pen and w^ondering where his hay can be." 

Fahim came back to the hearth and kicked back a fallen log. 
"We should have gone up last week, Gaffer. That drought — it was 
worse for him than it was for the trout. I'll bet his ribs are show- 
ing by now." 

"Take it easy, Gaffer," said Jan, looking shrewdly down the 
rifling of his gun. "He'll last till morning. We'll put old Wool- 
beater and his horses up for the night and get the hay up the 
mountain at daybreak. We ought to thank our stars some stranger 
didn't get a shot at him. One day more — arid then the season's 
over and that's off our minds." 

Gaffer stamped his boot heel down on the hearth. "There'll be 
no waiting until morning, Jan ! If there's a clear moon — up we go 



33% Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

toniglit. Best be careful in these hard times. Or we'll be stuffing a 
starved-out hide just as I stuffed his dear old father long ago." 
The old lad turned swiftly toward the door and whispered: "Now 
what in thunder can that be ? A hunting-horn — or I'll eat my shirt !" 

Fahim flung open the door. Up the lane came a team of horses, 
heaving and blowing against the traces. Behind the load of hay, 
a pair of headhghts shone and every now and then the horn of the 
blocked motor car sent out a noisy bugle call. The hunters heard 
the driver shouting angrily to old Woolbeater, who sat aloof on his 
high load. Once he turned and cried: "Ain't going to do ye any 
good. Mister. Blow away. If ye can't take it easy — ^why, take it easy 
as ye can." 

Old Woolbeater slid down, pulled a handful of hay from under 
the canvas cover, and handed it to Gaffer. "Take a chew of that, 
Mr. Doonan. If that's not the sweetest stuff you ever fed the 
Tremper Buck or his dad — why, my name ain't Woolbeater." 

Gaffer tasted the wisp. " 'Tis good, friend Woolbeater. You did 
well, considering the lack of rain. Now pull into the barn and bait 
your horses. If the moon comes clear, we'll finish the job tonight. 
The old boy has been whistling up there for us." 

Gaffer then turned to the driver of the car, who stood waiting 
at the door. "You, sir," said Gaffer. "What can we do for you?" 

The stranger, a plump, hard-faced customer in a coonskin coat, 
looked hard at Gaffer. "Are you Gaffer Doonan?" 

"I am, sir." 

*'My name's Fiske. Captain White said he spoke to you about 
me at the City Club a while ago. Said you might put me in the way 
of a little hunting." 

"Captain White .^ Ah, yes. Welcome to you, sir. You come 
pretty late in the hunting season, but do come in and take your 
nightcap with us." 

Gaffer introduced his companions and Lorenzo, the lodge stew- 
ard, trotted into the room with a tray and hot jug. Gaffer filled the 
mugs, handed one to the stranger, and drank with him. The 
stranger, without a by-your-leave, poured himself another mug and 
sent it shooting down. 

"Smooth stuff, Doonan!" he said. The toddy drove a quick 
flush into his cheeks. The mug shook in his trembling hands. 

When he stretched out his hand to the jug again, Jan sent a 



Beware of the Tremper Buck SSS 

secret signal of alarm to Gaffer, came closer and whispered : "Your 
friend has been taking a little too much. Unless I miss my guess." 

After the fourth mugful, the stranger spread his legs out in 
front of the fire and, with a belch or two to start off, said : "Don't 
mind telling you fellows that I'm a new member of the club down 
home and I mean to present the house committee with a fine pair 
of antlers pretty soon. I don't mind telling you that's my aim. 
That's why I come up here." 

Gaffer politely remarked that this was an admirable ambition. 
He added : "No use counting the points, sir, till your buck is down." 

The stranger puffed red and began some pretty tall talk about 
his being a crack shot and how he had knocked over a bull moose 
in some yard or other up in Canada. The Doonan band couldn't 
stand a boaster and they were all getting a little dark in the face 
when a fist struck at the outer door. 

It was old Woolbeater. He stepped in, walked right over to the 
jug, poured a drink, and said: "Moon's up bright and clear. I'm 
ready to feed that buck, if you fellows are. Come along, won't ye?" 

"Feed a buck!" The stranger roared in unseemly laughter. 
"Are you fellows stringing me along? What do you mean, old timer? 
Feed a buck !" He emptied his mug. "I'll bet you're going to take 
a shot at him when the moon rises. Or maybe you're going to jack 
him. What's that lantern for? That's it!" 

Gaffer leaped to his feet. Jan put a hand on the old lad's 
shoulder and soothed him. He then turned to the stranger and as- 
sured him that they were, indeed, going to feed the buck, "It's the 
Tremper Buck, Mr. Fiske. An old friend of ours. None of us would 
think of taking a shot at him. He trusts us." 

"The Tremper Buck!" The stranger's eyes went hot. "I've 
heard of that one. Is it true that he's got such a spread on him? 
Over twenty inches? I saw the old Tremper Buck set up at the 
inn. They say his son is even bigger." 

"Quite true, sir," said Fahim. "Indeed, if you would like to 
come along with us, you might catch a glimpse of him feeding." 

The stranger pulled on his jacket, took a flask from his bag, 
and climbed onto the load of hay. Old Woolbeater urged the horses 
on and they pulled into the mountain road. By the time the team 
turned into the gateway of the tumbledown farm, the moon was 
out, bright and clear. Woolbeater took the hay forks out of the 
load and they all set to work. 



334 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

They drove away then and went down the road a piece. There 
the farmer pulled up and Gaffer led the hunters into a spinney of 
elms near the barn. In a few^ minutes they heard a branch break 
in the apple orchard and then, walking boldly in the moonlight, the 
Tremper Buck appeared, snuffing and throwing his beautiful head 
up and down. He leaped high over the pen wall and began to feed 
on the hay hungrily. 

The stranger whispered excitedly. His eyes glittered while he 
Avatched the handsome antlers gleam in the frost. He pulled his 
flask out and swallowed its contents. He swore harshly at the bum 
of the liquor. 

Back at the lodge, Gaffer led the stranger to a cabin and then 
turned in for an uneasy sleep. The queer drunken intensity that had 
marked the stranger's face rather worried the old lad. So, as soon 
as the green flush of dawn came up beyond mount Touch-me-not, 
Gaffer hurried over to the stranger's cabin. He rapped at the door 
and cried out: "Good morning!" 

No answer came. Gaffer rapped again. He then pushed the 
door open and looked in. The stranger had gone. His gear lay scat- 
tered around the room, but his rifle was not there. 

Gaffer shouted an alarm. He hauled Jan and Fahim out of 
their beds and roared for Lorenzo. Quickly they drank down their 
coffee, pulled on their snowshoes and started off for the abandoned 
farm. Snow began to fall. It had fallen in the night, too, and their 
trail of yesterday lay hidden. But they hadn't gone far before they 
found the stranger's tracks, where he had gone slogging along. 

Gaffer bent down and looked at the marks. "Fresh made!" he 
cried. "After him, boys. Don't take no back talk from him. Just 
knock him down and hand him over." 

They ran on through the rising storm. The wind hurtled out 
of the North and blew big soft flakes against them. Gaffer sud- 
denly stopped. When the others came up, he said: "Even a crazy 
man like that won't hunt in such weather. I can't see a yard ahead 
of me. Watch out now. He'll be coming back." 

Ten strides later they heard an angry curse ahead. Fahim 
slipped to one side of the trail and Jan followed. Gaffer threw 
himself into a drift. They were scarcely hidden before the stranger 
came plowing by. He spoke many a hard word as he clumped along. 

They let him go. When he had vanished, they kept on his trail 



Beware of the Tremper Buck 335 

to the old farm and found the place where he had lain under the 
eaves of the spring house, waiting for an easy shot. 

"Damn his eyes!" said Fahim. 

"He's a tough ticket," said Jan. "But we can't stand guard 
over the buck all the time. I'm going to ride that guy out of the 
valley." 

Gaffer said nothing. He put on his thinking cap while they 
trudged back to the lodge. Once he cried: "Ha!" and began to 
think again. And then he said: "He'll be back, my lads. There's 
no preventing that. The law's on his side and the law isn't on the 
buck until sundown. No, Jan, don't drive him away. Then we 
couldn't keep an eye on him. First thing to do is to try eloquence. 
If that fails, sterner measures must be used." 

The stranger, confronted with his guilty action as he strad- 
dled on the hearth, made no bones about it. "Who the devil are 
you," he roared, "to tell me I can't take a shot at him? Just be- 
cause you're fattening him up for yourselves. To be shot out of 
season, I'll bet." 

Jan gasped, then leaped to his feet. Gaffer held him down and 
turned to the stranger. "I just w^ant to w^arn you, Mr. Fiske, that 
you're heading for trouble. Captain White told you at the club 
about the Tremper Buck, I suppose, but there's lots he didn't tell 
you. That's no ordinary deer. Do )^ou think we'd bother our heads 
with a run-of-the-woods buck.^ No. Take my advice. Go elsewhere 
and get yourself a buck while there's time. I don't want to seem 
mysterious, but if you go after that deer again, something will 
happen that will astonish you. Not that we mean to do anything 
about it. The law's on your side. But the Tremper Buck knows 
no law. And he'll settle your hash for you. Mark my words." 

The stranger poured himself four fingers of whiskey. "You can 
keep your rotten cabin," he said with a pretty snarl. "I almost froze 
to death in it, anyway. And I'll take the Tremper Buck — if it's 
the last thing I do!" 

He stalked out of the lodge and went swearing and scuffling 
to his cabin. He gathered his gear and drove off toward the inn. 

"And now what?" asked Jan. 

"Yes, Gaffer," said Fahim. "What now?" 

*'Leave it to me, my lads," replied Gaffer. "I've been expecting 
this and I've been thinking very hard. That brute has it coming to 
him and I'll give it to him." He shook his head and added: "If he 



S36 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

lasts long enough, I mean. I never saw a man so close to delirium. 
The D. T.'s, as they used to call them when I was a boy." 

"Gaffer!" cried Jan in horror. "You're not going to drink him 
under the table?" 

"I could. I could. But I wouldn't take a drink with a guy like 
him. And it won't be necessary. He doesn't need any help." He 
pulled on his jacket and added: "I'm going down to the village 
to talk with some of those clever mechanics down there. I'll find 
out how hot they are, all right. All you lads have to do is get into 
the old farmhouse kitchen about dusk and keep your eyes peeled. 
Bring your rifles — in case of accident." 

Jan and Fahim shook their heads in doubt and despair as they 
watched him go. They sat around the fire most of the day and then 
took up their rifles and started off for the mountain. Halfway up 
the road, they found a team of horses and a sledge pulled up. Old 
Woolbeater stood alongside. He grinned when they questioned him 
and replied: "Just been doing a little hauling for the old man. 
Can't tell ye what. Promised not to." He winked. "Going to wait 
till it's over. Must take back what I took up." 

The two hunters crept into the farmhouse kitchen. A snowfall 
began and came thick enough, now and then, to shut off their view. 
Fahim walked up and down the boards, beating his long arms about 
to keep warm. At one turn, he looked out the window and gave 
a sudden groan. "Here he comes, Jan." 

Rifle in hand, the stranger came creeping into his lurking place. 
A squall hid him from sight, then the air cleared and they saw him 
spread out under the eaves, his rifle sighted. He brushed the snow 
off his cheeks, which were blue with cold. Again the snow drifted 
over the spring house in a long flurry and hid him from their sight. 

The stranger lay there for ten minutes, his bloodshot eyes fixed 
on the bullpen. He drank from his flask. And then, sharp and 
clear, a whistling sound blew down the mountainside. He raised his 
rifle and waited for the wind to clear the way. 

Presently the air cleared. He peered over the barrel and grunted 
with an evil joy. Clear and beautiful against the grey sky, the 
motionless and noble figure of a buck stood, his forefeet planted 
on the frosty wall. One handsome, glassy eye stared upward at the 
storm-ridden hemlocks. The other seemed to be casting a hungry 
sort of glance toward the banquet of hay. The light was so dim that 



I 



Beware of the Tremper Buck 3S7 

the antlers were not clearly visible, but it was easy to see that they 
were magnificent. 

The stranger, terribly excited by this wonderful appearance, 
growled at his trembling hand. He aimed at the buck. 

"Tremper Buck, eh?" whispered the assassin savagely. "In 
just one-tenth of a split second, you'll be a buck no more!" He 
ran his tongue over his dry lips. The rifle wavered, but he showed 
that he knew a thing or two. He took his time. He kept his look 
of crazy expectation fixed on the noble head against the sky. But 
he held his fire and waited for his nerve to settle. 

"Damn you !" whispered the stranger. Slowly he lifted his rifle, 
slowly he drew his bead. 

Just as he was about to squeeze the trigger, something hap- 
pened that made him go white with terror. The buck, still gazing 
downward blandly and without the slightest sign of fear, cried out 
in an extremely courteous tone: "I beg your pardon, sir, but may 
I ask if you are, perhaps, aiming that weapon at me?" 

The stranger's drooling mouth gaped. He groaned terribly; 
and then he roared so loudly that Jan and Fahim looked out from 
the kitchen window, their eyes bulging. The stranger tried to speak. 
All he could get out was a meaningless whisper, and then: "What? 
What's that?" 

"Come, sir," cried the buck. "Be good enough to speak up 
clearly. My hearing isn't what it used to be. All these guns banging 
day and night, you know. Kindly answer my first question: is it 
your intention to discharge that lethal weapon in my general direc- 
tion? I advise you to think twice before you do. That's all I have 
to say." 

The stranger, fighting hard to keep some sort of grip on him- 
self, lunged forward a step and gibbered in a miserable fashion. 
"What in the devil's name is this?" 

The deer's marvelous eye gleamed in the snowy dusk as he 
repHed in majestic calm: "This, my dear sir, is the Tremper Buck, 
of whom you have doubtless heard. At least, you have heard of 
my papa, who still lives, in a way, at the Vly." The Buck paused 
for a tender sign of remembrance. "My father was a great deer. 
Really, sir, a remarkable fellow. He could read quite w^ell." He 
sighed once more. "Never learned to write, though. As I have." 

The stranger looked wildly toward the darkening sky. His rifle 
slipped from his hands. He beat his fist against his forehead and 



8S8 Esqulre^s Second Sports Reader 

then, in a panic, gulped from his flask, "Am I madj at last?^^ he 
moaned. "Oh, hell-fire!" 

"No," said the buck in an even, measured tone, "you are not 
mad yet. But you soon will be. At present, in my humble opinion, 
you are suffering from over-indulgence in alcohol." 

"Damn your hide!" yelled the stranger, reaching for his rifle. 
"Mad or not, I'll—" 

"Be good enough," interrupted the deer, "to leave my hide out 
of this. It's quite as good as that pasty skin of yours. In fact, it's 
superior, being considerably older and made of the best Catskill 
buckskin." 

The stranger cursed and lifted his rifle. 

The season will be over in a very few minutes," observed the 
buck. He again let loose a melancholy sigh. "Too bad that I 
can't escape the dishonor of being shot at by a rascal like you, but 
I'd never run from a miserable, sneaking, unsportsmanlike good- 
for-nothing drunkard. Which is what you are, my friend." The 
buck took a deep breath and then added in an off-hand manner: 
"The dope probably can't shoot anyway. So why worry .^" A gleam 
sprang from his steadfast eyes. He then addressed the stranger 
once more. "I beg your pardon, but before you shoot such an ex- 
traordinary deer, one who has studied hard and apparently in 
vain, may I ask you one question. Before answering, I must warn 
you that in a minute or two the season will be over. May I.^^ May 
I ask?" 

The stranger, looking much, much sicker and even more doubt- 
ful of his sanity, weakly whispered: "Yes." To himself he said: 
"Am I mad? Talking to a buck? Oh, hellfire!" 

"Thank you sir," replied the buck. "Just tell me — yes or no — 
can you hit the side of a barn door?" At this sally, the buck roared 
with laughter. A festoon of snow fell from his great antlers. With- 
out waiting for a reply, he shouted: "I must warn you, sir, that 
if you miss — and I'm positive you're going to miss — I intend to 
jump all over you. I may, in fact, scatter you all over the — " 

At this moment, which was even more than critical, Jan and 
Fahim, choking with laughter, heard the door at the right open. 
Gaffer, holding a microphone in one hand and dragging a wire in 
the other, whispered: "Can you lads think of something decisive 
to say? I'm stuck — and we have only a minute left. Or less." 



Beware of the Tremper Buck 339 

Fahim grabbed the microphone and at once let loose a first- 
class Turkish hunting whoop. 

Jan, staring out of the window, groaned. 

A dire and dreadful thing had taken place. Another buck had 
arrived. Snufiing the fragrance of the hay eagerly, the newcomer 
bounded through the orchard and brought up with a trumpety snort 
of astonishment when he saw the great antlers spread before him 
and the glassy eyes staring away and away. The buck turned to 
flee; then, his curiosity whetted, he jumped forward and stretched 
his muzzle out until it almost touched the other's mouth. 

The stranger gave another gasp, which was nearly his last. But 
he had learned much by now and he knew what to do. He raised his 
rifle in the dim flow of the last light of the sun. He shrank against 
the springhouse and calmly laid the rifle barrel on a beam that 
stuck out there. 

In no way disturbed by this unexpected arrival, the elderly buck 
said in a sweet, sad, low voice: "Ah, my son! You come at a 
grievous hour. Your poor father is about to receive his death blow." 
He sighed again and, in a still sadder tone, "Shoot, if you must, 
this old, grey head, but spare my little son," he said. 

The stranger, muttering some awful phrases about not being a 
fool any longer, aimed his rifle and this time he drew the deadly 
bead on the new arrival, who stood stock still as he tried, in his 
deerish way, to figure out the fascinating puzzle before him. 

Jan, seeing that the game was up, shuddered and placed his 
hands over his eyes. Fahim began to swear in a choice combination 
of Turkish, French, and Cockney. 

Gaffer, who never was able to see when the game was up, picked 
up Jan's rifle and fired a quick one from the hip. The bullet 
smashed through the window and went ripping under the Tremper 
Buck's belly. A sliver of ice drove the buck into a high leap. He 
came down on all fours and whirled around, madder than a she- 
bear. 

The stranger fired. His bullet cracked off a point of the elderly 
buck's horns. In an instant, the Tremper Buck, enraged by the 
second shot, flew over the stone fence and plunged headlong to- 
ward the stranger who screeched and flung his gun away. He fell on 
his face and rolled into a gap. of the springhouse wall as the buck's 
forefeet lashed murderously down. 



340 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Gaifer kicked out the window panes and fired into the air. The 
buck whirled again and trotted off into the forest. 

Gaffer ran to the springhouse. He pushed a slab of bluestone 
over the gap and thus sealed up the stranger neatly. He thrust 
his head down and yelled: "You all right, Mr. Fiske.^^" 

The stranger spluttered. 
"Didn't I warn you?" 

Another splutter, hotter and louder, came from the dark cran- 
nies. "You let me out of here." 

Gaffer sat down. "That buck tell you he could write?" 

"You know damn well he did." 

"Don't you believe him," chuckled Gaffer. "He's the worst liar 
in the Catskills. He can't write even his own name." 

The stranger roared. "You let me out of here." 

Gaffer looked at his strapwatch. "Sun sets officially in one min- 
ute and a half, my friend. You just wait right there." 

The snow began to fall faster. It drew a screen over the forest 
and over the statuesque buck on the bullpen wall. Just as the snow 
iiid him from view, he laughed quietly and then said with an accent 
distinctly Turkish : "It is now two minutes past six o'clock. The 
season is over and all is well." 



Gigue for Hunting Horns 
Ly Reed Jonnston 



Captain Ransom Huxtable, late M.F.H. of the Bowlby, stood be- 
fore the mirror in his dressing-room and surveyed himself with 
gloomy wonder. It was late; it was almost midnight; yet he wore 
the pink coat and corded trousers of the hunting field, the velvet 
riding-cap, the buttons of the Bowlby ; all complete except for the 
whip. And here his costume diverged sharply from tradition: he 
carried a shotgun. 

He carried a shotgun and he was about to commit that black- 
est crime of the hunting field — ^that offense which would exclude 
him forever from the friendship and society of his kind — he was 
going to shoot a fox. It was a bitter ending to a long and brilliant 
career. 

The season — his twentieth — had begun auspiciously. Cubs 
abounded; hounds were in fettle; farmers were complacent. The 
membership was excellent too; all keen hunters and expert horse- 
men, with never a lubber to mar the field. And the Master himself. 
Captain Huxtable, he was reaching the very zenith of his powers. 
Everything pointed to a particularly brilliant season. Then the 
trouble began. 

It began in the shape of a certain slant-eyed vixen with the 
Devil in her who grew up, so to speak, under their very noses in 
the Bowlby meadows and who, once she had reached young ma- 
turity, promptly refused (with the Devil's help) to have anything 
to do with the game of fox-hunting in any form. She was wise 
above other foxes. She could run faster. And she was apparently 
invulnerable. That was clear from the first. 

Rarely would she run before hounds, and then only to their 
confusion. No stratagem was wily enough to outwit her. She seemed 
even to be assisting other foxes, what time hounds were pressing 
them, for every scent somehow, sooner or later, became inextri- 
cable from her ovn\ ; she invariably split the pack forty ways from 
Sunday — a feat indeed, for they were expert — and left them yelp- 
ing foolishly in every direction but the right one. 

Sometimes she would simply disappear — spurlos versenkt — 

341 



342 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

in the middle of a stubble field. Once she leapt out unexpectedly 
from behind a stone-wall and nipped the leader of hounds on the 
ear. Another time, when they seemed to be hot on her heels, she 
was discovered loping along busily behind the field, and not in 
front of it as the rules prescribe. And then — crowning audacity — 
she had the habit of going to earth occasionally in Squire Thorpe's 
poultry-yard, where, except for the unhappy cackle of fowl, no 
trace of her could be found thereafter. 

Nor were the poultry unhappy without reason. Every night 
she selected for her supper the fattest, tenderest young hen in 
the yard, varying her diet frequently wdth one of the Squire's 
prize China ducks. And this was all the more unfortunate since 
Squire Thorpe's voice was law in the Bowlby. Squire Thorpe's 
purse maintained the Bowlby. And Squire Thorpe was no man to 
suffer in silence. He spoke his mind to the Master as they came 
hacking home. 

"This has got to stop, Huxtable!" 

"Hmm-mm," said the Master. 

"You hear.?" 

"Yes," said Huxtable. "Yes, I hear." 

"Or we are in a fair way to become the laughing-stock of the 
countryside!" Captain Huxtable kept silent for a moment. 

"That is no ordinary vixen," he said presently. The Squire 
puffed angrily. 

"No, and that is no ordinary poultry she is filching, either! I 
must say it is a pretty state of affairs when the owner of the best 
pack in the countryside stands at the mercy of every fly-by-night 
vixen that comes down the road. A hen a night, I lose — sometimes 
a duck — and all because of one blasted little vixen. Why she can't 
pick on some of the farmers, I don't know !" 

"You have the best hens," said the Master. 

"Yes, and I have a pack of mumble-footed hounds that ought 
to be able to protect them, too!" Squire Thorpe turned to look 
sharply at the Master. 

"You keep chickens, don't you.'^" « 

"Yes," said Huxtable. 

"Ever lose any?" 

"Why, no-o-o," the Master admitted reluctantly. "No, can't 
say that I have." 

"Seems funny," said the Squire sourly, and then the conver- 



Gigue for Hunting Horns 34^ 

sation ended abruptly for that day. They discovered the very cul- 
prit in question, trotting happily at their horses' heels and (they 
could only suppose this) listening to every word they said. 

From then on events took on an uglier color for Captain Hux- 
table. The vixen began to make up to him. Somewhere near his 
house she appeared almost daily now, when hounds were in kennel. 
The muddy garden was covered with her footprints and the scent 
of her kept the kennels in constant uproar. Once at night she even 
scratched at the house-door, apparently asking to be let in. And 
there was every evidence that she had made friends with those 
neutral parties the horses, for she seemed occasionally to sleep in 
one or the other of the stalls. 

All this the Captain knew, and kept to himself. But the word 
got round. Dark rumors were spread. Had the Master perhaps 
got him a fox for a pet. Had he perhaps trained her to eat other 
people's chickens? Or bring them home to him even — a sort of 
back-handed retriever? These were the outrageous rumors that 
spread through the Bowlby, and still the Master kept silent. 

"Lost any hens to that vixen yet?" the Squire asked him one 
day. 

"Why, no-o-o," said Huxtable. "No, I can't say that I have." 

"Funny," said the Squire. "She hangs around your place a 
lot too, doesn't she?" That very day the Master went in to the city. 

He returned though, late the same night, and with him he bore 
a small wooden case with a handle at the top and screening on the 
two ends, such as animals are packed in for travel. This he carried 
furtively to the hen-yard; he fumbled with it for a moment in the 
dark, and hurried into the house. 

When he came out next morning there was a hub-bub in the 
yard. Grooms and a huntsman were bent over in a huddle, exam- 
ining some object on the ground. Near them lay five dead hens in 
a row. 

"So the vixen got them at last, did she!" said the Captain, al- 
most joyousl3^ The huntsman straightened and shook his head. 

"Can't blame her for this, sir !" he said. The men stepped back 
now, and for the first time Captain Huxtable saw what had per- 
plexed them. It was a ferret, and dead also like the hens, with 
its neck bent back at a sorry angle and its creamy fur spotted 
with blood. 

"This?" cried the Captain. ''ThisT 



S44 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

^'Yes, sir," said the huntsman. "I know their style, I do." He 
pointed to the hens. "T'wasn't no fox as done thatF' 

Captain Huxtable turned wildly back to the ferret. "But this," 
he faltered. "This ferret — what's happened to itf And, as the 
men kept still, he added, "A hound?" 

The huntsman shook his head. "You may well ask, sir," he 
said sternly. "And if you was to ask me I'd say it wasn't a hound 
but a fox — a vixen!" The men behind him muttered their agree- 
ment. 

Captain Huxtable let his arms fall weakly against his sides. 
"My God !" he whispered. "My God." Then he turned and tottered 
back into the house. 

It was all up with Ransom Huxtable ; he was through. He knew 
it. Still for a little while he tried to go through the old motions. 
He redoubled his efforts in the field ; he resorted to every strata- 
gem he knew to catch that vixen. Only unfortunately she redoubled 
her efforts, too. She ran rings around the Bowlby; she had them 
in a daze before the week was out. Her poultry-tax was raised on 
Squire Thorpe, and now she took two of his hens each night in- 
stead of one. Her attentions to Captain Huxtable were increased 
a hundredfold. 

Now when he went for an afternoon canter she loped beside 
him, so that all the countryside might see his shame. When he went 
for a drive in the trap she trotted beneath its wheels, in passable 
imitation of a well-trained coach-dog. As for dogs themselves, no 
single one — no pair even — ^had the appetite to confront her; when 
the pack was let loose she was off and away like a wraith. Finally 
the Captain took to the house and stayed there when hounds were 
not running. 

Then at last she dealt them such a blow as no hunt could rally 
from. One night of her own accord — the kennelman saw her but 
realized too late what she was about — she opened the kennel-gate 
and took the bawling hounds for a midnight gallop which extended 
clear into the next county. At least the hounds were found there, 
footsore and weary, late the next afternoon. And in the evening, 
when word of this came back to the Squire, he called his M.F.H. 
for a conference. 

There was no burst of volcanic anger from the Squire ; no fire 
of any kind. Indeed he looked definitely old as he fumbled in his 
pocket and drew out a telegram. It trembled perceptibly in his 



Gigue for Hunting Horns 345 

hand as he held it out to the Master; it trembled in the Master's 
hand as he read it. The message was signed with the name of a 
rival hunt, and it contained one short, jeering sentence; "Con- 
gratulations on your new mascot." 

"You see, Huxtable," said the Squire. 

"I see." 

''They know:' 

"Yes." 

Squire Thorpe blew his nose gustily. "I have decided to get 
rid of my hounds, Huxtable. Getting old, you know." 

"Oh, no," the Master protested. "I wouldn't say that." 

"Ye-es, getting old." He held out his hand to the Captain. 
"So this is the end of the Bowlby. No hard feelings, Huxtable. I 
blamed you for a while — now I don't know what to make of it." 

"No more do I," said the Captain. He clasped the Squire's 
hand; then he turned away and left the house. Near it a small 
shadowy figure stepped out from behind a clump of evergreens 
and followed him home through the raw spring night. He was not 
unaware of her presence. 

When he reached the back door of his house he turned for a 
moment and shook his fist in the direction of the garden. 

"You wait," he growled. 

Upstairs in his dressing-room he began hastily to change his 
clothes. It was late; it was almost midnight; yet he donned the 
full regalia of the hunting field: the velvet riding-cap, the pink 
coat and corded trousers, the buttons of the Bowlby ; all complete 
except for the whip. In place of this he carried a shot-gun, and 
now that he was ready he paused before his mirror and surveyed 
himself with gloomy wonder. 

He was going to shoot that fox. By that one act he would 
exclude himself forever from the friendship and society of his 
kind; but he was going to do it. Turning sharply from the mirror 
he hastened down the stairs and out into the garden. 

She was still there waiting. Once his eyes grew accustomed to 
the darkness he saw her quite plainly, her own slant-eyes gleaming 
in the faint light from the upstairs window. They did not move 
or waver as he raised the gun. He held them full in range for a 
moment. Then he fired. 

And before the echo of the shot had died away in the garden 
the sob in his throat burst forth. With a cry of despair he flung 



346 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

the gun aside and turned stumbling toward the house. As he did 
so a small brisk figure crept out of the shadows and trotted after 
him to the door. When he turned to close it he saw her there on the 
step, the mask spread in a friendly grin, the bushy tail wagging 
faintly. She was quite undamaged, and she looked into his eyes with 
steady confidence. 

Then it was that Ransom Huxtable knew what course the Fates 
were pursuing; knew that his destiny was somehow bound up in- 
eluctably with hers. She would be with him always, and whither he 
went there (like Ruth) would she go also. He knew this with 
a definite feeling of relief, and for the first time in many days he 
raised his head defiantly and smiled. Softly, so as not to frighten 
her, he stepped back from the door and beckoned her into his house. 

"Come in," he said. "Come in then." 

It is not to be supposed that she understood the precise mean- 
ing of his words, but the gesture was unmistakable. She trotted 
confidently into the house and Ransom Huxtable closed the door be- 
hind them. 



Dodie^B Duck 

ty Walter Clare Martin 



This morning I received a copy of S. R. A. — B, S, 83, issued by 
the Bureau of Biological Survey, a promulgation of the national 
duck law. 

In this important booklet I find innumerable rules, regulations, 
statistics, etc., etc. ; but I note one deplorable omission. Nothing is 
said about the duck-hunting activities of Coyne McCreagh of Coon 
Ridge, whose experience, I think throws more light on the federal 
conservation program than all the leaflets you could set a match to. 

It was not jealousy, I am sure, which inspired the Bureau of 
Biological Survey to ignore Mr. McCreagh so effectively. More 
likely they considered him outside their scope, because, that hazy 
dawning of November, he did not set out to hunt ducks. 

The truth is, he set out to hunt rabbits. 

He set out with three rocks, having no civilized arms except an 
erratic muzzle-fed musket. And for the musket he had no munitions. 

He talked some of borrowing a Twenty-two from the Flints; 
but they lived a right smart down the holler. Besides, they might 
not have any bullets. The Flints' shotgun had been reduced to his- 
toric scrap-iron when Bud fired it with snow in the snout. 

So Coyne equipped himself with three rocks, round and cold, 
about the size of baseballs. 

It is a matter of record that such missiles, addressing a rabbit 
broadside, may derail him with catastrophic effects. 

So Coyne McCreagh, crunching the frosted leaves, stalked from 
one brush-pile to another. Into each pile he peered, and each pile 
he kicked hard with the heel of his home-soled boots. 

Coyne was no Houdini, however, and the rabbits failed to ap- 
pear. Two rocks chunked heavily into his skunk-perfumed coat, 
and the third chilled his throwing hand until it stiffened. 

Coyne shifted this rock to his right perfumed pocket and rubbed 
his hands between his legs with much vigor. He then put his hand 
inside his pants pocket to warm it against his thigh. 

A rabbit some thirty-odd feet away, blurring into a background 
of buck brush, sat watching these human maneuvers. With the 

347 



348 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

infernal perversity which animates all cottontails he waited until 
Coyne's throwing hand was tightly tucked into his pants, then he 
jumped like a guilty conscience. 

Coyne caught the insulting white flick of his tail as he scooted 
between the rough legs of the forest. 

With a startled "gawd blast!" Coyne wrenched free his hand 
and fumbled a rock from his coat. He hurled it with desperate 
violence. 

The beast was too far, and the total effect of the throw was to 
increase his ambition to travel. 

Coyne McCreagh's body sagged as he watched the meat disap- 
pear. 

"I'm sure sorry, Dodie," he said. 

This Dodie, as the Biological Survey should know, was Coyne's 
young faithful wife, very expectant. She expected a baby, in three 
or four months, and today she expected a rabbit. 

Budgetty matrons whose caloric adventures begin with the tele- 
phone, who live neighbor the year round to smiling vendors of T- 
bones and sidewalks piled high with fresh spinach, can but weakly 
conceive what that rabbit meant in the life of young Mrs. Mc- 
Creagh. 

Six weeks she had rationed on salt sowbelly and corn-pone, with 
slippery-elm bark to chew, when too hungry. Dodie needed no Johns 
Hopkins guide-book to tell her she was not doing right by Coyne's 
baby. Her stomach, without publicity, turned upside down and 
the mountain bloom began to fade from her cheek. 

It had reached such a crisis, Dodie had said to her man : 

"If you don't get some fresh meat, I'll take fits." 

That was why Coyne said he was sorry. He did not want his 
young mate to take fits. He did not want his heir to be born chicken- 
breasted or too crooked to swing a man's ax. 

He was sorry, but he tightened his rawhide belt and trudged 
farther on, down the hollow. He probed and kicked every brush-pile. 
He thrust twistin' poles into old secret logs. He circled patches of 
briar-bush and peeped under bunch-grass, and the one thing he did 
not find was a rabbit. 

" 'Taint no use," he muttered. "They clubbed 'em too close." 

Just to keep the Biological records straight, this "clubbed 'em 
too close" referred to the winter before, when a fifteen-inch snow 



Dodie's Luck 649 

smothered the Ozarks. A vast horde of pat-hunters, with clubs and 
with dogs, waded out and enjoyed a snow massacre. 

From Coyne's county alone, 50,000 dead bunnies were piled 
upon trucks going east. 

A great week! Kettles simmered. Coins clinked in surprised 
pockets. But it so happened that not one of those 50,000 dead bun- 
nies laid an egg to be hatched the next Easter. 

Great sport for the pot-hunters; but now Coyne tramped the 
hard hills without sighting a living creature. He began to doubt 
the one flicker of fur he had seen was anything more than a ghost. 
A rabbit ghost haunting the scene of the massacre. 

Hungry, chilled, disillusioned, he paused on a bald knob to take 
bearings. He could see his home smoke, miles across bristling 
gulches, and told himself he should be there, chopping firewood. 

But Dodie was expecting a rabbit. 

Off south lay the river, smeared with fog like whipped cream. 
Some ten or twelve miles, by the tumbling road half a mile to a 
crow, or an airplane. 

An automobile horn sounded along the ridge road, across the 
still vale from Coyne's knob. Sportsmen, probably, bound for the 
duck blinds. Lordy, lord, couldn't Coyne eat a duck! Dodie could 
eat a duck, too, he reckoned. How her anxious brown eyes would 
light and dance if he came swinging a fat duck by the neck. 

It burst over Coyne, then, that despite war, flood, and damna- 
tion he was going to get Dodie a duck. 

Furiously he plunged into the hollow. Through bramble and 
briar, through sassafras and blackjack he made for the nearest 
arm of the river. If he could get to the blind before the sportsmen 
arrived, he could offer to work — for a duck. 

The car beat him, by a couple of minutes. The hunters were 
dragging out guns. Automatics, pump-actions, double-barrels, all 
sizes and chokes — Coyne never had beheld such an arsenal of shot- 
guns. 

Three men in the party and three guns to each man: short 
range, middle range and long distance. 

The financier of the party was Lawrence Bogart, husky-voiced, 
impatient, red-shaven, meat-fed; a man who had inherited much 
and made more. He operated an overall factory. 

The other two were physicians — Doc Pyne and Doc Smith. One 



a-" 



850 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

lean and sardonic as a wolf at the door; his fellow thick, swarthy, 
coarse, friendly. 

They were transferring luggage from the car to the blind. 
Coyne McCreagh hurried up, half winded. 

"I reckon I could help you unload," he said. 

Bogart sized him up. 

"How much?" 

"I'd do it for one mallard duck," said Coyne. 

The thick, friendly Doc laughed: 

"You like 'em better than I do." 

Bogart said: 

"Can you keep your mouth shut?" 

"A feller can't talk with his mouth full o' duck," said Coyne. 
'Very shrewd, indeed," said the wolf. 

'You're hired," said Bogart. "Just do what we want, and you'll 
eat duck till you quack for a week. There's a bonus, also, at the end 
of the day, if everything goes off smoothly. Ail right, pitch in. We'll 
unpack the car and run it into the willows. Then lug all the stuff 
to the blind." 

Coyne McCreagh pitched in, his heart singing. He was quite 
willing to quack for a week. 

The junk was unloaded; the big car concealed; and the four 
men laddered into the blind. It was half sunk in lush clumps at the 
shore of the stream, warm and roomy, finer far than Coyne's cabin. 

There were shelves for tall bottles; built-in boxes, bug-proof; 
fold-up couches ; wall lights, operated by electric dry cells. 

Coyne asked several questions about these smart lights, resolv- 
ing to buy one for Dodie's Christmas. 

As the program progressed, the men talked and drank. Coyne 
inferred that Doc Pyne was a novice. He was an expert skeet shooter, 
and office partner to Smith, who was striving to out-doorize him. 

"When do you put out the decoys ?" Pyne said to Bogart. 

"Not legal this year," said Bogart. 

"What about your phonograph records?" 

"They're legal if made from mechanical quacks; but not legal 
if made from live fowl." 

"Which are these?" inquired Pyne. 

Bogart spun a phonograph disk with his thumb. 

"I didn't ask, when I bought them," he said. 

They tried out the records. Quack, quack, quack, quack — a 



iir 



Dodie's Luck 351 

lively medley of friendly duck voices. Coyne would have sworn, 
had he not been standing there staring at it, that the river was 
swarming with mallards. 

"Guess I'll plug my guns now," said Bogart. 

"Plug?" said Doc Pyne, puzzled. 

"Sure thing, that's the law. Repeating shotguns must have their 
magazines plugged to three shells. A damned silly thing, if you ask 
me. We have a bag limit of ten. Since we can take only ten what 
the hell does it matter if the gun shoots five loads or three. ^" 

"Five loads would be better, I reckon," said Coyne. 

"Wli}^?" all the hunters looked at him. 

" 'Cause the more shots in a gun the less the number of flocks 
would be banged at to fetch down the limit of ten. That means fewer 
bunches is disturbed from their feed. It's breakin' rest and feed that 
hurts most." 

'The man is right, Bogart," said Smith. 

'Maybe so," said Bogart, "but it's no hair off my neck. I know 
how to beat the law — legal. Three loads in three guns are nine 
loads, as I figure. Here, McCreagh, you take charge of these two 
extra guns, and when I reach, hand 'em to me — like this." 

He practiced Coyne in the art of gun-passing. 

Smith was boring the sky with a hand telescope. 

"Mallards !" he cried. "Drop the roof." 

Bogart pulled a lever which let down the grassed roof. The men 
snapped to their shooting positions. Through the sloping glass 
pan^s, camouflaged with tall reeds, they could scan the smoking 
face of the river. 

Smith set the phonograph calling. Coyne held the gun ready to 
pass. 

A triangle of mallards dipped down through the haze to dis- 
cover the source of the quacking. 

Disappointed, they rose and circled the woods, their hollow 
wing-bones whistling, "Follow." 

"They're gone," complained Pyne. The others signalled him 
"Hush." Soon the birds reappeared, dipping lower. 

"They're tired," whispered Bogart. "Next time they'll drop." 

The air in the room seemed to stiffen. 

Around came the ducks, stretching, eager ; convinced that no foe 
lingered near. They supposed the friendly ducks, whose voices they 
heard, were concealed somewhere in the weeds. 



S52 Esquire's Second Spoi*ts Reader 

The shrill whistling ceased as by signal. Nervous wings relaxed 
in midair. 

Tail rudders snapped down to check landing speed. One instant 
they hung in suspended power as if a still camera had caught them 
The instant hunters rave about in their sleep. 

Up sprang the camouflaged roof of the blind. Fire and thunder 
shattered the picture. Scatter loads, choked loads, and long range 
charges of shot ripped to pieces the gallant formation. 

Surprised by the furious cannonade, the ducks climbed away 
from the death trap. Courageously they re-formed their torn ranks. 
Leaving wounded and dead whom they were unable to help, they cut 
a swift path through the ghostly haze and steered for less sinister 
waters. 

The dead mallards and wounded, of all degrees, floated on the 
white water like lilies. The boat lay concealed at the weedy shore of 
the stream ; but the men made no attempt to retrieve. 

One by one the fine dinners for which Coyne would have given 
his cornfield headed into the strong flow and shot down. He stared 
at the ducks and the boat and the men. When he could endure it 
no longer, he blurted: 

*'Ain't you aimin' to fetch in them ducks?" 

*'Hell no," said Bogart. 

Coyne hesitated a moment. To him the idea was incredible. 
Enough dinners to support him and Dodie for two weeks were 
drifting away, for the turtles. 

It must be a mistake. He persisted: 

"Don't none of you fellers enjoy to eat duck.f^" 

The men were annoyed, and showed it. 

"Sure we like duck," said Bogart, "but we like shooting a 
damned sight better. If we picked up all the ducks, we would about 
have our bag limits and be heading home before we got started. We 
won't have our bag limits until sundown." 

Coyne's hungry jaw stiffened, indignant. 

"It don't rest my mind none," he retorted. "That's the way it 
went with the rabbits. Last year they was growin' on every bush 
and nobody showed 'em no mercy. This year you can tramp till 
your tongue hangs out and not get enough hair for your eyebrow. 

Bogart growled irritably: 

"There's plenty of ducks." 



5? 



Dodie's Luck 353 

"They ain't," said Coyne, "and if they was, this kind of busi- 
ness would soon blot 'em out." 

"Take a drink and forget it," suggested Smith. Pyne added: 

"It's strictly our business ; and strictly within the law." 

"Lawful or not," said Coyne, "It ain't right. Wild game to you 
fellers is just something to bust; but it's serious meat to us here in 
the hills. It ain't right to waste meat and it ain't right to let crip- 
ples float off and die slow." 

"We can't get 'em," said Bogart, "they are too far out." 

*'Loan me your boat," said Coyne, "I'll fetch 'em." 

"Like hell! and get us all in a jam. This river is patrolled by 
state and federal men. One might chance along any moment." 

"Let 'em come," said Coyne, "I ain't breakin' no law." 

*'Then for your information," said Bogart, "it is unlawful to 
use any kind of boat more than one hundred feet from the shore." 

Coyne gaped : "Is that the law.?" 

"Yes, that's the law," they all nodded. 

"It's a damn' funny law, I reckon," said Coyne, "if a man 
can't pick up shot birds." 

"There's a lot of damned funny laws," said Bogart, "but we 
manage to have our fun. And this particular law suits us just fine; 
it's an excuse for not picking up birds." 

"I don't like it," said Coyne, "it ain't right." 

*'And I don't like lectures," said Bogart. "We won't need you 
any more today. Here" — he held out a one dollar bill. 

Deliberately Coyne turned and climbed from the blind ; ignoring 

the proffered pay. 

* * * 

Again Coyne found himself on a ridge ; alone, cold, rabbitless, 
duckless. 

Instinct urged him to go back home ; eat cornbread ; chop wood ; 
get warm. Pride told him to keep on trudging. 

Llis eyes toured the hills for suggestions. The nearest smoke flew 
from the roof of the Flints, two or three hours across hollows ; tough 
going. 

The Flints, he recalled, had a rifle. They might have a cartridge 
or two. Coyne knew a place, down the river, where frog-weeds grew 
on mud flats. There often fed ducks ; which a man could approach, 
if he used enough patience and cunning. 

Resolutely he scraped down the hillside and worked across the 



354} Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

oak deeps towards the Flints. It was mid-afternoon when he sat 
astride their worm fence and shouted at the clay-chinked log cabin. 

It was bad manners to approach without shouting. 

At his voice, mongrel dogs set up a fierce brawl. In the doorway 
a sockless woman appeared. She turned and spoke to Squirrel Flint 
— patching boots by his fire — and Squirrel Flint shuffled out to meet 
Coyne. 

Squirrel Flint, tall, fibrous, bald, weather-warped, hard, made 
Coyne think of his old hickory ax-handle. 

Coyne skipped the weather and all the usual small chat, and told 
Flint why he had come. He wanted a gun to hunt ducks. 

"I'm plumb sorry," said Squirrel, "but my shotgun is broke. 
Buddy stodged some snow in the muzzle." 

"I reckon you don't have no ca'tridges for your twenty-two 
target," said Coyne. 

"I mought," said Flint, "but you would be wasting vour time. 
You can't fetch no ducks with a rifle." 

"I mought fetch down one," said Coyne. 

"With a heap o' luck maybe," said Flint. "We shore wouldn't 
need no bag limit for ducks if everybody used a single-shot rifle. 
I won't say a feller can't do it ; but you shore need to take plenty 
of pains." 

"I aim to take pains," said Coyne. 

Flint got the rifle and six twenty -two shorts; of which Coyne 
borrowed three. He declined an invitation to cider. Flint's cider 
was ripe and went to a man's eyes. Dodie's duck required him to 
shoot straight. 

Coyne warmed his raw hands at Flint's fireplace; and looked 
briefly at Flint's 'possum pelts. He then struck with gaunt strides 
through Flint's turnip patch, on the last leg of his march to the 
river. 

Almost to the river, keeping close under shade, he saw a flock 
circling the fog. 

He hstened : the mud flats were quacking. He crouched until the 
flying birds settled from sight beyond the tangle of high weeds 
and willows. 

His heart bounced. Dodie's dinner was waiting. Indian-like he 
moved forward, half crawl, half run, towards the thick dank veg- 
etation below. 



Dodie's Luck 355 

He made It without being seen. In the willows and poison white 
sumacs he paused and held open his ears. 

No ducks jabbered now. His hopes trembled. A dog, a loose 
rock, a fishing boat on the stream would fill the fog with a wild 
hurry of feathers. 

He had borrowed a cord from Flint's rafters. He tied a loose 
loop and slung the gun on his back, to avoid jabbing mud into 
the muzzle. 

Belly-flat in the herbage he wriggled along like a crocodile 
with a man's head. Inch by inch his muddy track lengthened. The 
closer he wormed to the edge of his cover, the more pains he took 
to be noiseless. 

Light broke, at last, his screen thinning. He could see the frog- 
flats just ahead. Half a hundred gay water fowl disported them- 
selves — ^mallards, blue-wings, mergansers, and sprig-tails. 

Wet and shivering, Coyne huddled behind a drift-log and 
studied the situation. A single-shot rifle — one chance. The nearest 
duck was a teal, a bright blue-wing cock, wrestling with a live fish 
in the puddle. 

About fifty yards to the teal, Coyne figured. If the gun was any 
good, he could hit it. But a teal was small profit ; just one tempting 
bite, and beyond that teal, ten yards, sat a mallard. 

Desperate, like any gambler who stakes his world on one 
throw, Coyne decided to try for the mallard. 

"Now gawd damn you, little rifie, shoot straight !" He nosed the 
sly weapon across the drift-log and laid his right eye in the sights. 
The front bead appeared to blur slightly. Slowly, cautiously, hold- 
ing his breath, he withdrew the gun from the log. With his ban- 
danna, he wiped off the fine web. 

Again the determined muzzle crept over the concealed log. Again 
Coyne rose into the sights. He pinned the bead on the sheen of the 
lusty drake's wing, on the whistling bone that carries mallards to 
safety. 

Tenderly he tightened his finger. The rifle let go Its canned 
death. Powder smoke stung his eyes as the flat roared into air and 
the sycamore tops sprouted feathers. 

Coyne jerked his breech bolt, forced In the fresh load, and fired 
his farewell at the mallards. His slug punched a harmless hole in the 
zenith. He shoved in his third cartridge and turned his mind to the 
flats. 



S56 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

There lumped his duck, dead as a doorknob. 

A fine human pride caroused in his chest as he hurried to take 
up his bird. The muddy sop was adhesive. 

He squshed. Ankle deep in frog-pudding he retrieved the big 
drake and imagined what Dodie would say. 

A motor-boat came rippin up-river. Two men in warm clothes 
scanned the shores. When they glimpsed Coyne, they swei-ved, 
swung the boat up a slough, and split the weeds within a stone's 
throw of the hunter. 

They stepped from the boat with a business-like air, their legs 
sheathed in high boots. They came over. 

"Did you kill that duck with that gun?" said one, 

"Sure did," said Coyne, "plumb center." 

The spokesman showed his credentials. 

"You're under arrest," he said. 

"Get into the boat," said the other. 

"Hey ! Hold on !" said Coyne, "you fellers got the wrong hunch. 
I bought my license last June. I got it here, in my shirt pockets." 

"License or no license," the first officer said, "you killed a duck 
with a rifle. That's a violation of the federal law." 

Coyne gawked. 

"Crazy or not, that's the law." The man reached into a pocket. 
He brought forth a soiled copy of S. R. A, — B, S, 88 and read 
pointedly : 

". . . migratory game birds may he taken during the open season 
with a shot gun only,'* 

"Get into the boat," the other man said. 

Coyne stood, staring queerly at the duck he had shot. Then he 
blurted : 

"I tell you what, warden. Let me take this duck home to Dodie, 
my wife, then I'll cheerful go with you to jail." 

"Can't be done," said the spokesman. "That bird is evidence 
now. It is proof you have violated Regulation Three which provides 
for the protection of wildfowl." 

"Get into the boat," said the other one. 

Coyne walked to the boat, his face tightening. The mud pulled 
with a loud sucking sob. The men took his duck and his rifle and 
seated him in the bow end of the boat. 

They pulled from the flat, towards the current. 

Up the river a sudden noisy bombardment gave Coyne his fare- 
well salute. 



A Gamecock Doesn^t Forget 

Ly Edward Jerome Vo^eler 



Never double-cross a chicken rooster! Don't do it Brother, be- 
cause he won't forget you. But, when I say "chicken rooster," don't 
think for a moment I am speaking of a dunghill barnyard fowl with 
feathers on its feet, white ear lobes, a heavy comb that flops over 
one eye and a posterior that when plucked looks like a pinch neck 
bottle with a hole in it. To chicken men, and I don't mean poultry- 
men, such vermin are simply soup meat, and damned insipid, un- 
palatable soup meat at that. 

No, when I say chicken rooster, I am speaking of a gamecock, 
the only fowl a "chicken man" will recognize and, incidentally, the 
gamest, noblest creature that remains on this earth. And just be- 
cause his skin is drawn tight over his face and can't wrinkle in 
scorn when you do him dirt; just because his eyes gleam with an 
eternal fire that never varies — don't think he won't know it if you 
deal seconds on him and don't think he won't remember it. 

Gene Tunney once said the most skillful boxer is a rank ama- 
teur when compared with a fighting cock — or words to that effect. A 
pretty sophisticated observation that, but it doesn't go far enough. 
What Gene failed to say is that a chicken rooster knows a lot of 
things besides fighting and that he speaks a language all his own, 
a language that serves his needs fully as well as our own jibber- 
jabber serves ours. Let me illustrate: 

Twenty years ago, when I had a hell of a lot more ambition than 
I have at the moment, I studied French, German, Spanish and Ital- 
ian and after about four years of intensive work I reached the point 
where I could walk into a restaurant, point to something I wanted 
and ask the waitress to "gimme a piece" in any one of the four. But 
— I have been studying "chicken talk" for more than thirty years 
and am still virtually inarticulate. The only conclusion I can reach 
is that it is more difficult to master than most of the lingo employed 
by humans in squawking for what they want. 

To be sure I know that "Da gock, duck duck !" means "What's 
going on here?"; that "Ka tuck! Ka tuck tuck!" means "Come see 
what I got!" and that "Duck, duck-a-da-gerawarawk," accom- 

357 



358 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

panied by a crooning, lowered inflection of the last syllable and a 
scraping of the left wing, means "Baby, I could go for you in a big 
way," or some universal equivalent. -But, I have never been able to 
interpret, much less to voice, the shrill message of warning which a 
chicken rooster sounds when a natural enemy hoves in sight; nor 
have I ever been able to understand how in hell he can tell a goshawk 
from a buzzard from a distance of two hundred yards. 

There is one thing, however, I have learned about a chicken 
rooster, and that is he has a memory like an elephant. You find this 
hard to believe? Then let me tell you the story of the first of the 
Bens. 

My brother and I were introduced to chickens about thirty 
years ago when my father's gardener threw a pair of sixes after 
drinking more than his daily ration of a quart of moonshine and 
his unhappy widow succumbed a few weeks later to a broken heart 
and the remnants of a five-gallon jug. It was very sad, and to make 
matters worse, this good couple left behind them a dozen asparagus 
plants and a flock of about twenty chickens — all in dire need of 
attention. 

My brother and I ignored the asparagus as too deep for us, but 
did throw an ear of corn to the chickens whenever we thought of 
it and occasionally collected an egg. This state of affairs continued 
for several months and may have kept on indefinitely had it not been 
for the arrival at our place in the sticks of a stranger, a gaunt and 
grisly individual about sixty, with bushy eyebrows, gnarled hands 
and eyes that gleamed with a strange fire. For a long time he gazed 
at our contented flock and at last he spoke: 

"Where did yez get them fowl?" he asked. 

"We inherited them," I explained. 

"Well," went on the stranger, "yez may of in-herded 'em and yez 
may of stole 'em, but wherever and however yez got 'em them's 
game fowl — and damn good ones at that, or I miss me guess." 

This meant nothing to us at the time and we were beginning to 
believe our visitor might be slightly touched in the head, a feeling 
that grew when suddenly he pointed with a trembling finger at our 
first chicken rooster and asked with an excitement that was ob- 
vious : 

"How would yez like to fight that cock, boys?" 

"Fight him?" my brother replied. "What do we want to fight 
him for. He ain't done us nothing. 



5) 



I 



'Mil 



A Gamecock Doesn't Forget 359 

My brother's English, which has improved but little through the 
years, hurt me, but his meaning was apparently clear to the 
stranger who smiled tolerantly. 

"I didn't mean for yez boys to fight him," he explained. "I 
meant, how would yez like to put him in the pit.^^" 

Ah, the tragic ignorance of youth! Today, I blush with shame 
when I must confess that at that time neither my brother or I had 
any inkling of the fact that cockfights were held every Saturday 
night at O'Conner's pit at Highlandtown and every Tuesday and 
Thursday on the Washington road. But the stranger was patient, 
sympathetic and understanding. 

"I'll tell yez what I'll do. boys," he said. "Let me fight that 
chicken rooster for yez, and if he win I'll give yez five dollars." 

"What if he lose?" my brother asked with a shrewdness not un- 
common in those of small learning. 

"Well, if he lose, ye still got soup meat." 

This impressed us as more than fair and the bargain was struck. 
The stranger carried away our first chicken rooster and two weeks 
later returned carrying a burlap bag. 

We expected him to dump an inanimate mass of feathers which 
we planned to bury without ceremony, so you may judge our de- 
light when he tenderly uncovered our inherited bird. 

Ben the First, named in honor of my father's heavy drinking 
gardener whose last name doesn't matter, looked none the worse 
for wear. Although his appearance had been altered, as his hackles, 
sickles and wing feathers had been clipped to fighting trim, there 
apparently wasn't a scratch on him. And his fierce eyes glittered 
with a more wicked light than ever, while his denuded bottom shone 
with the ruddy glow of an autumn sunset. 

With a tenderness one might expect to find only in an octo- 
genarian papa with his twentieth born, or in a cockfighter with a 
twenty-time winner, the stranger deposited Ben the First upon our 
lawn which he immediately proceeded to tear to pieces with his 
long sharp claws, meantime calling together his flock — of which 
he spared not one. 

"Nor life, nor death, he deemed the happier state, 
But life that's glorious, death that's great." 

What a magnificent creature w^as Ben the First, that early day 
of his prime. What grace, what beauty, what indomitable spirit. 



360 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

My brother and I gazed at liim with a fond rapture almost equal 
to that of the ancient cockfighter. Although we did not know it at 
the time, we were already bitten with the fever, that burning love 
and veneration of the undying spirit of a fighting cock and so 
engrossed were we in admiration that we almost forgot business 
matters. But the stranger remembered. 

"Well, boys," he said, withdrawing a well-worn purse from 
his hip pocket, "I guess I owe yez ten dollars." 

"Ten dollars !" we repeated in chorus. "Why, we thought you 
said only five." 

"That's right," the old man agreed, somewhat sheepishly. "But, 
ye see, he win his first fight so quick I decided to fight him again 
without cutting off his heels and in just one more shuffle he made 
another dunghill jump the pit." 

Ten dollars! To two country boys whose sole worldly posses- 
sions consisted of a flock of game chickens of which we still knew 
little, and a dozen rapidly withering asparagus plants, this was 
significant cash. We thanked the stranger effusively and invited 
him to call again. 

It was perhaps a month before he accepted this invitation and 
this time he told us of a big main to be fought at Back River be- 
tween two "prominent parties," one of whom had seen Ben the 
First win twice in one night and wanted to enter him among his 
show of fifteen cocks. For this, we were offered ten dollars, win, lose 
or draw, and again we assented and again Ben was returned to 
us, apparently without injury. 

On three other occasions that winter Ben went away to the 
wars and each time the gaunt stranger brought him back with 
fresh laurels and a new bank note to add to our rapidly accumulat- 
ing wealth and then late in February, towards the close of the cock 
fighting season and the opening of the breeding season, Ben left 
us for the last time. To be sure, he came back once more a winner, 
but this time he didn't escape unscathed. There was a tear in the 
old man's eye when he took him from his bag. 

"Boys," he said, "your cock got uncoupled in the first pitting 
and nothing but gameness saved him. I been fighting cocks, man 
and boy in this country and Ireland for nigh on to fifty years and 
I never seed a gamer fowl." 

As we returned Ben to his hens, we understood what he meant. 
Although there was not a whit of the fire gone from his proud bear- 



A Gamecock Doesn't Forget 361 

ing his defiance contained somewhat less authority and it was 
easy to see that he was sorely wounded. There were scars on his 
head and breast, many of his beautiful feathers were broken and 
he was unsteady in gait. 

"He won't never be fit to fight again," the old man informed us, 
"but he'll make yez a g-r-r-and brood cock. I'll give yez twenty- 
five dollars for him meself." 

We declined this offer and thus was born one of the greatest 
strains of fighting fowl in Maryland cocking annals. Ask any of 
the old timers about the Bens, the sons, grandsons and great- 
grandsons of Ben the First. Ask them about "Middle-Sized Ben" 
that, at 5:07 won four fights in one night without cutting off his 
heels — and never receiving an ounce weight advantage in any bat- 
tle. Ask them about Big Ben that won the challenge shake fight 
at the Mason-Dixon Line, or about Little Ben that won twice the 
same night — giving away a pound on his second match. They will 
tell you no gamer, finer fighting fowl ever grew. 

Our success in breeding this super-strain of game fowl was due 
entirely to beginners' luck and an amazingly simple system. Pos- 
sibly, among the flock of hens we inherited was Ben's own mother, 
and doubtless there were included many sisters and aunts of this 
great chicken rooster. But we knew nothing of their blood lines 
and even less of the fine points of single mating, inbreeding, line 
breeding and Mendel's law of heredity, so we let Nature take its 
course. The hens stole their nests, reared their. young in the woods 
and the ancient law of the survival of the fittest culled the weaklings. 

Meantime, Ben ruled supreme, the cock of the walk, pensioned 
for life, and so beautiful was he, now in full plumage and com- 
pletely recovered from his injuries, that cockfighters from miles 
around visited our place just for the joy of looking at him. He 
would never fight again — or at least so we thought. And then it 
happened. 

One of Ben's sons, hatched in the woods, reared in the woods, 
had reached the age when life meant glory. He had seduced a few 
stray pullets and had established a dukedom of his own and each 
morning, when Ben sounded his strident challenge to the world, this 
stripling would flap his wings from the top of an oak and call back : 
"Who-in-hell-are-you?" Of course, such insubordination could not 
be tolerated, and one day Ben decided to chastise the youngster — 



362 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

a decision tliat, with game fowl, could mean but one thing, a fight 
to the death. 

We found them that evening, side by side at the edge of the 
woods, the youngster dead and Ben so near death that but a flicker 
of life remained. Both of his eyes were closed, his head was swollen 
to double size, half of his plumage was scattered about the battle 
field and in a hundred places the short but cruel natural spurs of 
his offspring had inflicted wounds that were fevered and festering. 

Heartbroken, we carried him home. For three weeks, we fed 
him bread and milk, beef tea and other readily assimilated nourish- 
ment and for a month we bathed and treated his wounds and at last 
nursed him back to a point where he could stand and walk weakly 
about his hospital pen. But, he was but a shadow of himself. He had 
lost two pounds weight, his comb was pale and shrunken, his plum- 
age dull and faded and his interest in life at low ebb. And it was just 
at this time that my father decided to move to the city and we were 
confronted with the problem of disposing of our chickens. 

We solved this by aranging with a commercial poultryman to 
take care of our hens and pullets for the eggs they would lay, plus 
a small fee, and distributing the stags among members of the cock- 
ing fraternity. But Ben presented an individual case. For him, to 
whom we had pledged a life pension, it was necessary to find a quiet 
retreat, a place where there were few hens to foster and no dunghill 
roosters to fight. This was a difficult assignment, but at last we be- 
lieved we had found it. 

About three miles from our place resided a gentleman of color, 
whose estate consisted of a dozen young, a spavined mule, a two-acre 
potato patch and a flock of nondescript chickens. Among this flock 
was one adult dunghill rooster, an ignoble creature with scaly legs 
and raucous voice whose death warrant we signed when, after hav- 
ing completed arrangements for Ben's board and lodging until he 
should die of old age or until such time should arrive when we might 
take him back, we instructed the black man to eat his own absurd 
barnyard fowl. 

The day we brought Ben to his new home, the skies were clear, 
the sun was shining bright and there was no warning of the tragedy 
that awaited. We took him from his carrying case and gave him the 
freedom of the walk. The dunghill hens eyed him with a phlegmatic 
lack of interest characteristic of dunghill hens and there appeared 



A Gamecock Doesn't Forget 363 

nothing to interfere with the program of peace and quiet for our 
glorious warrior during his convalescence. And then, we saw it ! 

Overlooked among the Negro's flock of chickens was a frying 
size dunghill cockerel with feathers on its feet, white ear lobes and, 
even at that immature age, a heavy comb that flopped over one eye. 
Moreover, this preposterous monstrosity wore a tassel on its head 
and its ungainly posterior swayed with an undulating motion like a 
bed of pansies in the breeze. In its stiff, disjointed gait were symp- 
toms of rickets, and in its hideous plumage were indications of Leg- 
horn, Plymouth Rock, Buff Cochin and a dozen other soup meat 
ancestors. But now, as Ben the First prepared to assume jurisdic- 
tion over the Negro's place, this inane incumbent of the chicken 
roost cackled an hysterical challenge. 

"Will you just look at that dunghill scrub .f^" laughed my 
brother, who felt as I did that he knew just what was going to 
happen. Ben would take one swipe at its rear end and it would 
haul its assets without further palaver to the nearest underbrush. 
But we reckoned without due consideration of the complex nature 
of a dunghill fowl. 

Unlike a gamecock, to whom an accepted challenge means a 
fight to the death, your dunghill lives by the maxim. "He who 
fights and runs away will live to fight another day." His weapons 
are bluff and bluster, a raucous voice and a finished strategy of 
retreat — all foreign to the gamecock which the ancient Greeks 
and Syrians considered an emblem of divinity. So, now, instead 
of meeting Ben face to face as the latter, sick and weak, staggered 
forth to do battle, this bastard of a mongrel beat a retreat, still 
strutting and cackling insolently and when Ben, exhausted from 
chasing it, paused for breath, it flapped its awkward wings and 
crowed. 

Neither my brother, myself nor Ben had ever heard anything 
like that crow ! In it were the ghosts of a thousand dunghill ances- 
tors, each of which had died a hundred deaths while squawking in 
terror before the axe mercifully sent them to their only possible ulti- 
mate destination — the soup pot. In it was a wail of protest against 
spirit, a plea for property rights and a claim that bluster be listed 
first among the sterling virtues. It began staccato, rose crescendo 
and died in a gutteral, choking admission that its author was a 
victim of range paralysis and the roup — for which it was not re- 



364i Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

sponsible. It was a crow of terror — and a crow to strike terror to 
the stoutest heart. 

My brother and I glanced at Ben to see how he would take it. 

And Ben, Ben the Glorious, Ben whose ancestors had enjoyed 
the veneration of Washington, Jackson, Rhett and Breckinridge, 
Ben whose sons and grandsons were to write history in Mary- 
land's cocking annals, Ben the First and the forefather of all the 
Bens, stopj)ed in his tracks ! Slowly, the hackles of the back of his 
head rose and slowly his tail drooped as he appeared to shrink 
and began to sing like a hen. 

And now, for the enlightenment of the handful of readers who 
neither raise nor fight gamecocks, it might be well to dwell briefly 
upon a most interesting characteristic of the breed. Like a game 
horse, dog, man or any other of the lesser animals, a gamecock, 
gamest of them all, operates entirely upon spirit. When this is 
gone, it is completely gone. There is nothing left and his entire na- 
ture undergoes a transformation. His voice changes to a high 
pitched, effeminate song of sorrow, his feathers droop, his body 
shrivels as he becomes at once the most craven of creatures. Far 
more tragic than death is this spectacle of the spirit leaving the 
body of a normally unconquerable creature, while the physical 
organs continue to function. 

To use a technical term, Ben the First was "hacked." Hacked 
by the ungodly crow of a dunghill fowl — superinduced by weeks of 
torturing illness. There was nothing we could do about it and, sad 
at heart, my brother and I left him to solve his own destiny. 

A year later, we returned to the country and the first thing we 
did was call for Ben. We found him fully recovered in flesh and 
feather, but still dead in soul. At the approach of the Negro's 
dunghill rooster, Ben would shrink and the hackle feathers at the 
back of his head would slowly rise. And every time that ill be- 
gotten foul misfit would voice its ear-splitting, unearthly crow, Ben 
would flee in terror for the nearest cover. We paid Ben's board and 
gathered him sorrowfully to our arms, determined, if possible, to 
recapture the fugitive immortal spirit that was his. 

In this we were quickly successful after returning him to his 
own kind, for within two days his clarion call was awakening us at 
4 a. m. as in the days of old. Within a week, no living creature 
was safe around the barnyard as Ben developed a strange and 
vicious savagery foreign to his former aloof and chivalrous nature. 



A Gamecock Doesn't Forget 365 

Dogs and cats, as well as all feathered animals were wise to 
give him a wide berth. A neighbor raised peacocks and we almost 
had a lawsuit on our hands when three trespassed upon Ben's walk 
— and never returned. Toward Thanksgiving, we bought a live 
turkey and Ben tore the whiskers off the sixteen-pound gobbler. 
Meanwhile, we bred him upon his daughters and granddaughters 
and there emerged another generation of Bens, perhaps the most 
famous of them all, not one of whom ever showed anything other 
than that ultimate degree of gameness demanded in the cockpit. 

It was two years later that my brother had a thought, a bi-an- 
nual event with my brother. 

"I wonder," said he, "if Black Joe still has that dunghill 
rooster?" 

"I wonder," I replied, for it was as easy to read what was in 
his mind as the box score at a big league game. No dunghill fowl 
should ever go to Chicken Heaven boasting that it had hacked one 
of the finest gamecocks that ever lived ! 

We caught Ben at the expense of numerous scars on our hands 
and wrists where he dug his strong beak and spurs into us in protest. 
We held him while alternately he bit at us and crowed his defiance. 
Ben was now seven years old, weighed over seven pounds and as 
hard as a rock. We felt sorry for that dunghill rooster, but eased 
our consciences with the thought that it wouldn't last long. Just 
one shuffle and that scum of the chicken world would know its 
place. Ben simply had to wipe out that black mark on his other- 
wise spotless record. 

At last, we arrived at Black Joe's estate. There was no one 
around, so we took Ben from his carrying case and dropped him 
near the chicken coop. He looked about his surroundings curiously 
for a moment, and then sounded his sharp call, the short, clear, 
melodious and unmistakable voice of a dead game fighter. 

The dunghill rooster was nowhere in sight. But, suddenly, 
from a clump of bushes a hundred yards distant, there arose a long 
drawn wail of protest. It began staccato, rose crescendo and died 
in a gutteral, choking admission that its author was the victim of 
bumble feet, coccidiosis and worm infestation — for which it was not 
responsible. 

"Let me be !" it proclaimed. "I never done you nothing ! Go back 
to your damn fighting aristocrats ! I know I can't lick you, but I am 



S66 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

a braver man than you are because I can crow while my heart is 
torn with fear." 

And Ben heard and understood. Slowly, he appeared to shrink 
before our eyes as the hackles began to rise at the back of his head. 
And then Ben, Ben the Glorious, Ben the progenitor of a strain of 
fighting fowl famous in a dozen states for their desperate game- 
ness, slunk off to hide beneath the crumbling steps of Black Joe's 
ramshackle home. 

He had never forgotten the one thing which could strike terror 
to his noble heart — the eerie, quavering crow of a dunghill fowl 
whose highest possible destiny was the soup pot. 



Rose into Cauliflower 

Ly Mel Matison 



My chance was here. With a black eye and aching bones I sat 
in the dressing room of the Garden listening to Pat Farley, the 
boxing manager, make me a proposition. I had just won the ama- 
teur boxing finals in my division. Pat, with a cigar in his mouth 
and a flashing diamond in his tie, talked fast and plenty, saying 
a lot about making me famous and both of us a lot of money. I 
sighed through my split lip and thought, how strange is America. 
I, Alexander Volkine, coming to fame as a prize fighter in America, 
and only a few years back everything so different. 

Then, my life was to be the ballet. In Russia I had studied 
at the Imperial Maryinsky, showing great promise. But with the 
Revolution that life ended and widowed Mama took me to America, 
to the East Side, New York. Here, no beautiful Russian garden 
and great farm, only pushcarts and smells and close houses to- 
gether with no trees. And Mama taking in dresses to sew. Yet my 
dreams of the ballet I still kept in my heart. 

But on the East Side I needed more than dreams of ballet. Hard 
knocks were plenty there, with so many rough boys always fight- 
ing. I soon learned to defend myself and when in school a boxing 
team was started I joined. Then three years ago, with school fin- 
ished, I tried out for the amateurs, each year going further toward 
the finals. This year I won. Now here I was so far from my beloved 
ballet with Pat Farley puffing at his cigar and saying, "I'll make 
you tops in the middleweight division, kid. You're going places." 

I sighed and signed a contract. 

First, Pat changed my name to "Butch Volo." Next he taught 
me much about boxing I did not know before. Then he arranged 
my first professional fight. 

For this fight I wore new purple tights which looked pretty but 
how I wished they were ballet tights. 

When I got in the ring Pat gave me instructions, and it was 
all over fast, a quick K.O. I did not like the other fellow's face. Not 
like amateurs, this one was old and rough. 

I fought many fights and won. Alexander Volkine was now 

367 



368 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Butch Volo with a flatter nose and less four teeth. There was more 
money and we moved to a better flat. But Mama was not happy. 

"Alexander," she said to me one night. "Have you forgotten the 
ballet.? Do you not still have the wish to dance?" 

"Yes, Mama. My love for ballet shall never die but what can I 
do.? I am a fighter." 

"You fight only once in a while so you have the time to study. 
There is a little money so you can pay for lessons." 

"Matushka, you are wonderful! I did not think of it. I shall 
try it." 

Promptly the next day I went to the best ballet school in the 
city, that of Ivan Pupinoff . 

In Pupinoff's office, I shook with fear and with happiness. He 
was chubby and fat. He looked at me over his glasses. 

"So you want to study ballet," he said with an accent. "What 
do you know of dancing?" 

"I have studied at the Maryinsky in Russia," I said simply. 

Pupinoff jumped. He smiled and clapped his hands. "Mary- 
insky! Russian trained, wonderful!" 

He then gladly took my enrollment money and told me five days 
a week I was to study. Again I was Alexander Volkine, now a ballet 
dancer. And even if I was learning all over again the first five 
positions with "toe-heel, toe-heel, one-two, one-two," I was happy. 
Like in fighting I dreamed perhaps someday I should become a 
professional ballet dancer. America was a great country, I realized. 

It was hard work at Pupinoff's studio. But it was harder be- 
cause I had to train for fights, too. To Pat I said nothing about 
my ballet lessons, he not being sensitive for Art, preferring 
burlesque. 

Then came my inspiration. Only a week was I at Pupinoff's 
when I met Anna, sweet Anna whose black hair and dark eyes did 
not let me sleep. I was unlacing my dancing slippers after a lesson 
when she spoke to me. 

"Pupinoff tells me you are Russian. So am I. I am Anna 
Rakova." 

I looked up and my heart fell. Here was dvorianstvo, nobility, 
or as we Americans say, "the ritz." She was beautiful. Her eyes 
were like Mama's, full of tears, almost if the world was getting the 
best of her. Och, to make those eyes laugh. We spoke in our native 



Rose into Cauliflower 369 

tongue and then went to a little Russian tea room on Fifty-first 
Street. 

We had blinis, kapusta, roast yagenok, tea and soft words. 
There was so much in common — both Russians, in love with ballet 
and dreaming some day to be in the Tomanoff American-Russian 
Ballet. 

Of course I did not tell her of my fighting, that's so rough and 
lowbrow and different from ballet. I looked at her tenderly. And I 
think she looked back tenderly although my nose was getting flat- 
ter and my teeth were getting fewer. Right there I prayed in my 
heart to give up boxing quickly. 

Everything progressed that year. I managed so Pat knew noth- 
ing of the ballet and Anna knew nothing of the fighting. At the 
studio Pupinoff told Anna and me that if we kept up the good 
work we would soon audition for Tomanoff. Meantime the fighting 
paid for the flat, the lessons and the good times with Anna. Danc- 
ing helped my fighting in the legs, and fighting helped my dancing 
for strength. 

Then one spring day at the gym I was shadow boxing when 
Pat rushed in excited as never before. 

"Butch, great news. Our big break," he shouted and grinned. 
"I lined up a fight with Charlie Bazarkis. He's a leading con- 
tender. If you lick him, we're heading for the top. And better than 
that — the gate! Our share of the dough is ten thousand bucks if 
we win." 

"Pat, that's beautiful. When do we sign?" 

"Today. The fight is set for July twenty-fifth. Six weeks to 
train." 

This was terrific. With this money I could stop the hateful 
fighting. Mama could give up sewing and I would study ballet 
untroubled and marry Anna — if she would have me. I thought I 
would even miss a few dancing lessons to train for the fight. 

All the next week I trained hard at the gym. Only twice did 
I go to the studio, explaining to Pupinoff business was keeping 
me away. But when that Saturday I took time from the gym to 
go to the studio to see Anna, I found not her but Pupinoff who 
greeted me wildly. 

"My boy. It is arranged. It is set. I spoke to Tomanoff. You 
and Anna wall work as never before to audition for him July 
twentieth." 



370 Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

Such excitement all over again and more so. One grand thing 
after another — but wait. Confusion. How can I rehearse for the 
audition and train for the fight at the same time? Impossible to 
do both. I must sacrifice. It is not hard to decide. I shall not train 
for the fight but will work at the studio, have the audition and then 
take a chance for the ten thousand dollar fight without training. 
But what of Pat.P 

That night comes an idea. I write to Pat. I write cleverly that 
family business takes me out of town but not to worry for I will 
be back in time to win the fight. 

I tell Mama what happens, and to say nothing. Next I take 
a room near Pupinoff's studio so as not to be found by Pat. This 
is not too pleasant for I will be away from home for so long. But 
it is so, when a man gets older he gets far from his mother. 

Lastly that evening Anna and I celebrate and I dare speak of 
love. We are in the Russian tea room on Fifty-first Street. She 
wears a black and red dress and looks perfect. I gasp like from a 
left jab. 

"I am so happy," she says. "You and I, Alex, we shall succeed." 

"Always when you are near I succeed, Dusha," I say. Dusha 
is a Russian word of love, like Americans say "toots." 

"Wait until after the audition," she says. But I know from the 
way her dark eyes flash that everything, the world is mine. Never 
has a man been so lucky. Anna is the only person in the world to 
knock me out. 

But love took a rear seat for a month. Pupinoff decided Anna 
and I would give for Tomanoff The Spirit of the Rose. In this bal- 
let a girl returns home from a dance and falls asleep. On her shoul- 
der is a rose. The spirit of that rose comes to her room. I as the 
rose leap all around the stage, leap into her heart, dance with her 
and fly away. I wear a pretty red skin-tight costume with petals, 
and it is such a beautiful dance, so delicate, so tender. 

We rehearsed morning, night and day, loving every minute 
of it. I spoke to Mama on the telephone many times telling her to 
hold to the story to Pat I am out of town on business, not to worry. 

But only when I spoke to Mama did I think of that side of my 
life. Otherwise it was all The Spirit of the Rose. Finally came the 
night before the audition and Pupinoff was satisfied. 

"Tomorrow I shall proudly lose two dancers to Tomanoff ," he 
said. 



-:*► 



1 



Rose into Cauliflower 671' 

The next day my Anna was not frightened but I was. Butch 
Volo, a hero of the prize ring, conqueror of middleweights, shiv- 
ered as we entered the studio to face Tomanoff himself, Maitre de 
Ballet Rosakov and the ballerina Volovna. 

"Be not afraid, Alex," Anna whispered to me. "Succeed now 
and always our lives shall be together." 

Enough. Those words sent me to Paradise. I danced. I pirou- 
etted, I jeted, I fouetted like a Nijinsky. My elevation was as never 
before. I danced with love not only in my heart for Anna but in 
my whole body for the ballet. How I danced. How my Anna was 
a perfect partner, a feather in my arms, a Pavlova. Her adagio 
was charming, alluring. She looked at me with eyes of love. I stood 
high on my points, in rhythm with the right poise I had studied 
so hard, and with expression. 

It is over. With a whirling tour en Pair I give my beloved back 
to sleep and leap from the room. She awakens to find me, her rose 
spirit gone. So was the ballet finale. 

I rushed to the wings. Anna followed. We embraced. Ah, I 
could have remained that way forever but Pupinoff called. 

"Come here. Come out, my doves." 

We descended to Tomanoff , Rosakov and Volovna who smiled. 

"Bravo," she said in Russian, which means hooray. 

"Thank you baruishna," I said bowing and kissing her hand. 

Tomanoff was quiet, cold. Anna and I looked at each other, 
at him, and waited. Then he spoke calmly without excitement. 

"In a few years, with hard work and study, you two may de- 
velop into good, maybe great dancers." 

Anna and I looked at each other. Did we fail? Were we rejected? 

Then Tomanoff spoke magic words : "I shall take you into my 
company for the fall season." 

Gone was our dignity — Anna and I kissed right before them. 

Pupinoff that night gave to Anna and me a charming celebra- 
tion with much champagne which I drank thinking how angry 
Pat would be if he knew. Then it struck me in the morning I would 
see Pat and in five days fight Charlie Bazarkis. 

With a fairly big head and nervously I went to Pat at the gym 
the next day. He was a wreck, like with a nervous breakdown. 

"Butch, Butch," he yelled and grabbed me. "Where've you 
been? I've been going nuts. Your mother stopped me from going 



372 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

to the cops. How's your condition? The fight's four days off. 
Where've you been?" 

"Please do not worry, Pat. I am in shape," I lied. "It was 
urgent for me to go away. After the fight I will tell you why. 
Now let us go to work for Charlie Bazarkis. The ten thousand 
dollars sounds good." 

"Thank God you're here in one piece, anyway. I've got three 
days to get you in shape. Oh Gawd!" 

Pat was so nervous and jumpy, to tell him then I was fighting 
my last fight, I could not do. I would tell him everything after 
the fight. 

So I trained. Pat rushed me from bicycle riding to shadow 
boxing to workouts with pugs. It was not like training for the 
ballet: there I enjoyed rehearsals, thinking of Anna and my love 
for being a star dancer. Here I thought only of ten thousand dol- 
lars. Which, too, was nice to think of. 

Even the day before the fight Pat made me work out. Then 
some newspaper reporters came to the gym to watch me box. They 
took my pictures, and how I was frightened when I saw Butch 
Volo's fighting face in the papers that evening. Anna might recog- 
nize me as a prize fighter and there would be ruination. 

But Anna greeted me fondly when I called at her house so I 
figured she does not read the sporting pages. So we sat on the 
sofa, talking a little, sighing and looking into each other's eyes. 

Then wickedness came into my life. Anna's brother Boris came 
into the parlor. 

Boris is seventeen and getting 100 per cent American, chewing 
gum and not wearing a hat or garters. "Look," he says, and holds 
up two tickets. "For the Bazarkis- Volo fight tomorrow night. My 
boss gave them to me." 

Over turns my stomach. I feel as though I am hit on the jaw. 
If I am not sitting I would fall. But Boris and Anna do not notice 
me. Anna especially looks at Boris and claps together her hands. 

"Oh, I would love to go," she cries. "I have never seen a boxing 
match. Please take me, Boris. It should be interesting to see this 
American sport, so savage, so exciting and so, so American." 

Quickly I speak up. "Too savage, Anna. Don't go. It is not for 
you, blood and punching. You are too sweet and tender for that." 

"I am not too tender, Alex," she says. "You make of me a doll. 
I shall go." 



Rose into Cauliflower 373 

By all the saints of Russia, why does that brat Boris have to 
have a boss who has tickets to my fight? I can say nothing to stop 
her going. Her mind is made up. 

I went home and tried to figure something to do. Suddenly it 
came to me! I would not fight! Then Anna will not see me as a 
fighter. I went to sleep dreaming of fighting Boris with Bazarkis 
the referee. 

In the morning I rush to Pat's house. He stands over his break- 
fast table where is no food but many newspapers. His face is red. 

*Tat," I say, "I am sorry. I cannot fight. You see — " 

He interrupts me wildly. "You're telling me you can't fight. So 
that's where you w^re, you pansy. I get you your big chance and 
you run out on me. I'm the laughing stock of Broadway." 

I do not understand him. I look at the papers on the table and 
nearly faint. I am ruined. Nothing is left for me. The reporters are 
too smart. 

There on the front pages are pictures of me — Pupinoff's favor- 
ite picture of me as the Spirit of the Rose in my petals costume. 
Another picture is of me with my fighting face in fighting tights. 

My eyes are bleary as I read the newspapers: 

"Fighting Toe Dancer Scraps Tonight." "Fighting Rosebud 
Battles." "Fragrant Pug Fights." "Rose Turns Cauliflower." 

"Butch Volo, contender for the middleweight boxing champion- 
ship, who fights Charlie Bazarkis at the Garden tonight, was re- 
vealed today as a dancer with the Tomanoff Ballet Company." 

I can read no more. Tears come from my eyes. Toppling went 
Anna, ballet, Tomanoff , Pupinoff . 

"That's what I get for managing a mad Russian," says Pat. 
"Why didn't you tell me you were a toe dancer.? Pat Farley, man- 
ager of a toe dancer. If it was the Big Apple but toe dancing — 
Gawd." He looked at me as if to kill. 

Anger struck me. I might as well fight. "I shall knock Charlie 
Bazarkis all over the place and win ten thousand dollars," I said 
to Pat. "I shall take out on him my sorrow and yours." 

Pat is not impressed by these remarks. "You better take a dive 
and save your face for the ballet," he says sour as kvas. 

"Ballet?" I say. "They won't have me now. My Anna, every- 
thing is gone because of the fight. I'm going home to rest." 

Pat waved an unfriendly goodbye. I went home saying nothing 



374 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

to Mama who knew nothing of this mess as she does not read the 
American press. 

At night I go to my dressing room at the Garden. Pat is there 
with his anger the same. All my life it has been so, misunderstood. 
Pat sits without a word. I undress. The warning bell sounds and 
we get up silently. 

When I come to the ring Charlie is already in his corner. 

"Where are the pink tights, Rosey?" shouts a fan. 

"Got your dancing slippers, Dear?" calls another. 

There were many boohs and laughs. Och, my great misery. 

Meanwhile Charlie smirks in his corner. Now he stands up and 
bows low. "Welcome, Fairy Prince," he says. And then makes a 
nasty sound with his tongue. 

The last straw is added. I am white with anger. I feel ugly, to 
kill Bazarkis with one punch. 

The referee calls us out for final instructions. Charlie grins. 
Even the referee looks at me peculiar. And Charlie, big and tough, 
looks at me with laughing Greek eyes. 

The bell. We shake mitts and Charlie again bows sweet and 
low. The fight is on as the crowd yells: 

"Kiss him. Sweetheart" . • . "Be careful of those dancing legs, 
Rosey." And other awful things, 

Charlie right awa}^ shows no respect for me. Without feeling me 
out he sails in and — clomp! — biffs me on the jaw. I go down. 

But I don't stay long on the floor. When I come up I am dizzy 
but still feel ugly. I don't know what I am doing. I feel I am back 
at dear Pupinoff's with Anna dancing the Spirit of the Rose. I 
shake my head to clear up for I am sure this is no ballet. Biff, 
clomp, down again I go. 

This time I stay until nine. I get up, go down, the whole round 
is monotony and the crowd laughs and jeers. 

As I drag back to my corner, Pat says nothing but he works 
on me. With all kinds of smells, rubs and drinks he brings me back 
to my senses. It hurts my nature to fight but it hurts more to get 
socked by Charlie's left hand. 

Charlie hops out for the second round and I see in his eye the 
look to finish me. I cover up, clinch and hold. The crowd hollers 
and the referee breaks us. 

My arms are like lead but my legs are holding me up. Thanks 
to dancing ballet they are strong. 



Rose into Cauliflower 375 

So I dance. 

The crowd roars. Charlie looks at me as if I am crazy. But still 
I dance. Not really, but lightly I trip around the ring dodging 
Charlie and whirling like a Pupinoff leg exercise. Since only my 
legs work I use them. Charlie chases. I hit him lightly, for to get 
back my strength I must do everything lightly, gracefully. 

Soon the crowd and Charlie realize what I am doing. Every 
fighter dances in the ring. He is on his toes and hops around to 
worry the other feller. Footwork, we call it, or weaving. 

So I weave, only more like the dancer I truly am. I use the en- 
trechat which is a leap with feet changing positions. I stick in a 
few battements which is a difficult sliding around with the feet. 
First I am in back of Charlie, then in front of him for a second. 
As he reaches for me I whirl away again. I get faster, lighter. 

Next I hit Charlie with a left jab and keep my arm straight out 
in a line, dancing in that direction. In ballet this is an arabesque. 
Charlie gets dizzy chasing me when the bell rings. 

"A dancer even in the ring," Pat says. "I never knew it was in 
you. Keep it up," he tells me. "It's a good show and might hold 
you together a coupla rounds." 

For the third round I keep dancing. Charlie is mad and try- 
ing to put me away. But in this way he leaves himself wide open 
and I put in a few good biffs. 

For a second he worries me. He makes a pig push at me to stop 
my whirling around him and he pushes me to the ropes. Slam, he 
hits me right in the middle and I go "ummph." He slams me again, 
this time on the nose and my back goes to the ropes. But I bounce 
back and come to the center of the ring in a pas devourree, quick, 
tiny steps. 

"Come on, you Russian," Charlie says. "Fight." 

But I stay cool and dance. Slowly my strength comes back. 

In the fourth and fifth rounds I keep dancing. My strength is 
back, the crowd likes it which makes me think to this day people 
love dancing more than fighting, and best of all Charlie gets diz- 
zier and madder. But he can do nothing. What does he know of 
fighting a ballet dancer? 

In the sixth round I see my chance. Charlie has tried every- 
thing, even pleading to the referee to stop me dancing which the 
referee does not do as it is a style and I really fight between the 
dancing. 



376 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Charlie is looking around for me, very mixed up. He finds me 
and tries to push me again. I see he is disgusted and unhappy. I 
feint a dance step and stop. Suddenly I let go a terrific whack to 
his face. His jaw takes up most of his face so my fist lands there. 
Charlie goes down, never to stand up again that night. 

In the dressing room, Pat was so happy he jumped all over rip- 
ping things apart at great expense. He would stop jumping, 
look at me and scratch his head. "It's crazy," he said. "Goofy, but 
the greatest thing in the world." 

I of course was not too glad. To knock out Charlie meant to 
me a finger snap. But my Anna, my ballet, gone forever. 

Then an attendant came in and said a Miss Rakova to see me. 

Why was I not spared this torture ? How could I face her ? Why 
did she have to come in person to scold me for my sins.^ But bravely 
I told the usher to show her in. 

Anna comes in and her face is beaming. Her eyes are for me. 
What can this be — delirium? She rushes to my black eye. It hurts, 
but wonderfully when she kisses it. 

^'My Alex," she says. "I am so proud. This fighting is so mascu- 
line, so heroic. I am angry you did not tell me before you are an 
American pugilist." 

I am dazzled. 

Since that night it is two years. Anna and I have twins. My nose 
is two inches wider and I have a cauliflower ear. Anna helps Pat 
manage me and I hope soon to be champ. Anna even calls me Butch. 

But my beloved ballet is dead. Anna calls it a sissy's game. 
When I am not training she takes me to baseball games. 

But happiness comes when I sneak out of the house some 
evening and go to see the ballet. 



Joe, The Great McWhijf 

Ly KimLall Mcllroy 



"I GOT a great pitcher for you, Tom," Shorty Cohn said, breaking 
into my office at the ball park. "Greatest pitcher I ever saw. Come 
look him over and we'll sign him up." 

In these times you're interested in a player just so he's got 
two arms and a low classification, so I asked, ''Where's he at.^" 

"The zoo," Shorty said. "He lives there. Quit asking questions 
and get started. First thing you know the Yanks will have him 
signed." 

"O.K.," I said, "if he can throw, just throw." Shorty called 
a cab to take us to the zoo and when we got there he dragged me 
to the monkey house. Nobody was there but monkeys, millions 
of them, making a racket. Shorty didn't say a word. He took me 
over to a cage marked gorilla. Inside the cage was the biggest 
monkey I ever saw. 

"That's him," Shorty said. 

I said, "I ought to fire you right now." 

Shorty said, "You just watch." 

There was a pile of coconuts on the floor of the monkey's cage. 
Shorty got a banana and poked it through the bars. When the 
monkey saw the banana he picked up a coconut and let fly. 

I blinked. That coconut traveled so fast I hadn't even seen it. 

"He don't like bananas," Shorty explained, working the trick a 
couple of times more so I could watch. 

"Come on. Shorty," I said. "I got work to do." 

"You mean you ain't going to sign him up ? Did you ever see an 
arm like that.^" 

"He's got a real arm," I admitted, watching the monkey. 
Those coconuts went like rifle bullets and they never missed. 

"How many guys would hit one of those coconuts?" says Shorty. 
"Sign him up. He's even O.K. in the draft. You can pitch him 
against the Sox tomorrow." 

"WTiat would the rules say about him.^" I asked, beginning 
to waver. 

377 



378 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Shorty sneered. "Is there anything in the rules says you can't 
have an ape pitching for you ?" 

It wasn't until we were in the cab with the monkey sitting be- 
tween us that I realized what I had done. 

^'We bought him," Shorty said. "First we got to sign him to a 
contract. We'll witness it very legal as his guardians. Then we 
got to get him a uniform. Then we got to give him a name. For the 
program." Shorty scratched his head. "We'll give him a good busi- 
ness name — Joe McWhijff." 

Well, the monkey was ours now, and he could pitch. 

The minute we started to explain things to the rest of the 
team the big problem was who was going to room with him, but 
Shorty stopped the argument by pointing out that it didn't matter 
because we had a two-week home stand first. 

Shorty had it all figured out that we'd stake Joe down on the 
mound and give Al Bates, our catcher, a banana. There was noth- 
ing in the rules against staking a pitcher down. Al would hold 
the banana where he wanted Joe to throw the ball. 

I agreed to pitch Joe against the Sox the next afternoon. We 
had some trouble getting Joe into his uniform for the game. When 
Shorty led him out the Sox raised a loud squawk. "It ain't legal," 
they said. "There ain't nothing in our contract says we got to play 
against an ape." 

"Is there anything in your contract says you don^t have to?" 
Shorty asked. 

That stopped them. They finally agreed to play the game, but 
under protest. 

Shorty staked Joe down near the rubber and Al went to the 
plate. The umpire called, sort of doubtfully, "Play ball !" Al took a 
banana out of his pocket and held it where he wanted the pitch. Joe 
wound up and let go. Al yanked the banana away and stuck out 
his mitt. 

Nobody saw the ball but everybody heard it land in the mitt. 
The umpire yelled, "Strike one !" The batter looked dazed. He kept 
right on looking dazed while Joe burned two more right through 
the center of the plate. 

Joe had a wind-up that would have bafiled Houdini. Sometimes 
he let the ball go from one place and sometimes from another. It 
didn't matter much where he let it go from because the batters 
couldn't see it anyway. 



Joe, the Great McWhiff 379 

When the inning was over Shorty turned to me. 

"What do you think of liini, Tom?" he asked. "Did I get you 
a pitcher or didn't I?" 

The Sox got only three hits off him, all three by just holding 
their bats straight out in front of them and then by letting the ball 
bounce straight into center field. 

Shorty had it all figured out how he'd get around Joe batting. 
He'd decided Joe'd never be a hitter anyway and that the thing 
to do was to have him put out as soon as possible. It worked all 
right the first time. The Sox pitcher was evidently planning to 
get rid of Joe with a beanball. Only Joe caught it and tossed it 
back at him. 

Naturally, the umpire said, "You're out!" 

After that the Sox got smart, and when Joe came to bat next 
they purposely walked him. But all Shorty did was lead Joe off the 
base-line and make him automatically out that way. 

The first time they called a balk on Joe was in the third inning. 
He was waiting on the mound and all of a sudden he seemed to go 
into his wind-up. 

"That was a balk !" the Sox manager shouted. 

Shorty was out of the dugout like a rabbit. "That was no balk," 
he yelled. "He's scratching." 

There was quite an argument about it until the umpire said to 
Shorty, "You show me the difference between that and his wind-up, 
and I'll reverse my decision." 

Shorty tried, but he couldn't convince them. When he came 
back to the dugout he said, "We'll have to get him some flea 
powder." 

Aside from his balks and the three hits Joe was never in any 
trouble and we won the game going away. When it was over the 
Sox manager came around to see us. He was mad — fighting mad. 

"We're going to protest to the president of the League," he said. 
"Maybe there's nothing in the rules says you can't pitch a mon- 
key but you can't tell me it's according to the spirit of the game." 

"You got beat by a better man," Shorty said. "You should take 
your beating and quit squawking." 

After he'd gone Shorty said to me, "We signed Joe up legal. 
There's nothing wrong with his contract. Pitching that game 
didn't tire Joe a bit. Why don't we pitch him in every game from 
here on? He could win them all for us." 



M 



380 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

So we pitched him the next day and he won that game, too. On 
the Sunday he won a double-header. We were turning the fans 
away by the gross at the box office, so many of them wanted to see 
Joe. After the Sunday games the Sox manager dropped around 
again. 

"We heard from the front office," he said. ^'They won't make a 
decision until they send somebody to look this monkey over for him- 
self. You'll see, though. They'll make you replay all them games." 

Shorty laughed at him. The Monday papers from all over the 
country were full of stories about Joe, and it didn't look like we 
could miss. We were starting a series with the Yanks. The top 
baseball writers from all the big papers were there to watch Joe 
do his stuff. 

Someone told us that Joe McCarthy, the Yanks' pilot, had been 
talking to the Sox manager, but that didn't worry Shorty. 

"If you can't see 'em, you can't hit 'em," he pointed out. 

Rlzzuto was the first man up. He held his bat out and singled 
into left. Rolfe followed him and singled Into right the same way. 
I looked at Shorty. Selkirk singled Into center, scoring Rlzzuto. 

Joe didn't seem to have lost any of his speed and Al was calling 
for the ball In the right places. DIMagglo swung his bat a little and 
hit a double, scoring Rolfe and Selkirk. Someone yelled, "Take 
him out !" It was the first time they'd ever done that with Joe. 

I watched closely when Keller came to bat and finally I saw 
what was happening. Knowing that Joe could hit the banana 
every time, the New York batters were sneaking a look at It and 
holding their bats where the ball was going to come. 

In the third Inning we had to take Joe out. Shorty was broken- 
hearted. "What'll we do?" he asked me. 

It didn't help any when the Boss, who'd been doing nothing 
but patting us on the back during Joe's winning streak, came 
around and said: "You guys should know better than to try and 
make a pitcher out of a monkey and a monkey out of me. One more 
trick like that and I'll fire the both of you." 

We tried Joe on Tuesday and Wednesday and both times the 
Yanks knocked him out of the box within the space of three Innings. 
The papers were beginning to make sarcastic cracks about "the 
great McWhIff " and about the two wise guys who thought they had 
the baseball racket beat, meaning Shorty and me. 

*'Even Joe's worrying," Shorty told me on Wednesday night. 



Joe, the Great McWliiff 381 

"He's starting to brood. He just sits and stares at them there Yank 
pitchers." 

Then, to make matters worse if possible, who should show up 
there before the game on Thursday but Mr. Herbert Gilbert Nor- 
bert from the League front office. He was the secretary in charge of 
Public Decorum and Good Order. He called Shorty and me before 
him as if we had been schoolboys. "I am here to observe this mon- 
key," he said. "Complaint has been made and I must be satisfied 
that he is qualified in personality to support the dignity of the 
game." 

"Now look, Mr. Secretary," Shorty said right away, "Joe's all 
right. He's a gentleman both on the field and off." 

Mr. Norbert acted very doubtful. "I hear the monkey hasn't 
been doing so well recently. Lost his last three starts. Now if he's 
no good I'm sure you won't mind releasing him if I ask you to." 

"He'll get back into form," Shorty said. "He's just having a 
bad week." 

"Now, I want to be fair," Mr. Norbert said. "Suppose you put 
him in there today. If he looks good, you can keep him. If he 
doesn't, you release him. That's fair, isn't it.?" 

It was fair enough, but that didn't help. The Yanks had Joe 
all figured out. We hadn't been planning to pitch him. He didn't 
look so hot against the Yanks. 

Shorty worked over him like a mother before the game. When 
Shorty came in, after staking Joe down, he said, "It's a funny thing 
but Joe don't seem to be brooding any more. I think he figures he 
can take this game." 

Rizzuto walked out to the plate full of confidence. AI took out 
the banana and Joe let fly with the ball. Rizzuto held out his bat. 

The ball went smack into Al's mitt and the umpire yelled, "Strike 
one!" 

Rizzuto looked at his bat and then got ready for the next pitch. 
It went smack into Al's mitt, too. So did the third one. 

I couldn't understand it, and I didn't understand it any better 
when the same thing happened to Rolfe and Selkirk. Joe retired the 
side on nine straight pitches. 

But when Al Bates came into the dugout the sweat was rolling 
down his face and he shook. 

"Tom," he said in a voice that came up from his heels, "now 
he's throwing curves." 



88^ Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

And Joe was. I guess he'd been watching the way the Yankee 
pitchers flicked their wrists when they tossed curve balls. 

"What a brain!" Shorty said proudly. "He's got everything, 
even brains." 

Joe pitched a no-hitter and the fans went crazy. Shorty was 
jumping up and down like a little boy. After the game Mr. Nor- 
bert came down to the dugout. 

"Your monkey pitched a good game," he said. "A fine game. 
And I'll stick to my bargain. But first I'd like to meet him. You 
don't see many monkeys playing baseball. It's out of the ordinary." 

That's a matter of opinion, but all Shorty said was, "Sure, Mr. 
Norbert. Joe'd like to meet you too. Come on out to the mound." 

A good half of the customers had stayed in the stands to look 
at Joe who still was chained at the pitcher's box. Norbert swelled 
his chest and shot his cuffs as he walked out before the public. 

My mind was going around in circles with thoughts of winning 
the pennant by thirty games and taking the World Series in four 
straight no hitters. 

"Joe's a fine fellow, Mr. Norbert," Shorty said as we came up 
to the mound. "He's the best behaved pitcher I ever met. Shake 
hands with Mr. Norbert, Joe." 

Joe and Norbert shook hands. All the stands gave a cheer and 
Mr. Norbert took off his hat and bowed to them. Shorty unchained 
Joe, and we walked toward the plate together. One of the umpires 
was taking spare balls from the underground box. 

"I can't see any reason why he shouldn't pitch for you," Nor- 
bert was saying. "He seems very decent and dependable." 

Shorty beamed. "Joe's no trouble at all." 

Norbert reached into his pocket while he was talking and pulled 
out a banana. "Here's a little present for Joe," he said, holding 
it out. 

Before Shorty or I could move Joe had snatched a ball from the 
umpire and let fly. Norbert dodged and started to run. Joe jerked 
his chain out of Shorty's hand, helped himself to an armful of the 
balls and ran after Norbert. 

"Drop the banana, Mr. Norbei-t," I yelled. 

He didn't hear me. He was heading out toward center field 
and behind him came Joe, firing a baseball every few steps. They all 
hit Norbert straight as an arrow just below the hip pockets and at 
every shot Norbert gave a yell and a leap and the crowd gave 



Joe, the Great IMcWliiff 383 

a cheer. Norbert disappeared through the center field gates just 
as Joe's last baseball landed on him. 

"Well," Shorty said, "we've lost our pitcher." 

"His career is ended." Shorty was almost crying. "Norbert will 
have to stand up to write the report on him, but Joe is through." 
Then Shorty gave a howl. "Where did Norbert get that banana?" 

The umpire had an idea. "I w^ouldn't want to say for sure," he 
said, "but Joe McCarthy looked like he was holding a banana be- 
hind him after the game." 

"And I wasn't watching him." This was the last straw that 
broke Shorty's heart. "That's what happens when you don't watch 
everybody. What's baseball coming to if there's guys in it who 
would do a thing like that.^^" 



Return of a Trouble Maker 
ty James Kieran 



When they barred the spitter everybody said Phil was through, 
but he was a foxy devil and he worked up a new curve and a change 
of pace and he kept hanging on year after year. 

But when we made the first western trip that year you could 
see he was all washed up and in Cincinnati, George O'Leary called 
Phil in and told him to pack his bag for Kansas City. He was a 
ten-year man and didn't have to go unless he wanted to, but I 
guess he had to have a job. 

Going through the lobby he waved to Frank Johnson and me. 
"I'll be back," he said. 

"How come?" Frank Johnson said. 

"Cause I've got a wife and four kids and you can't send girls 
to college on no minor league salary." 

"Good luck, Phil," I said. 

"I don't want no good wishes from you young punks," Phil said. 
He glared at me. "And if you don't like it you can go to hell." 

"O.K., Phil, take it easy," Frank Johnson said. 

"O.K.," Phil said as he left. 

That was the trouble with Phil. He could have been a coach be- 
cause he knew the game inside out and he'd been in the league a long 
while and had every hitter pegged. But he couldn't get along with 
anybody. He always wanted to start a fight. 

We were sorry to see him go though, and even missed the fights 
h€ used to start. We got going good that year and by the Fourth 
we were up there one, two, three. It was a hot summer but we played 
in luck and when we hit Labor Day we were still in there. 

We finished up the last western trip half a game in front and on 
the train back that night, I saw a little dispatch in the paper from 
Kansas City about Phil being unconditionally released. "The ac- 
tion followed rumors of a recent club house row," the story read. 

"The same old army game," Frank said. 

All we were thinking about was that final home stand and that 
half game edge we had. 

And then Bill Jolson slipped, trying to field a bunt when the 
grass was wet. Bill had won twenty-two games for us and the 

384 



Return of a Trouble Maker 385 

sports writers were saying he would pitch us right into the Series, 
When he slipped, he fractured his ankle and that seemed to fracture 
our pennant chances too. 

We broke even with the Braves in a double header the next day 
and when we got back to the club house who was standing there but 
Phil. We were feeling pretty good and we all said hello but Phil 
just stared at us. 

I was walking past George O'Leary's cubbyhole when I saw 
Phil saying to George that George needed a tough experienced 
pitcher for the home stretch, and O'Leary sighed and he said: 

"I'll tell you what I'll do, Phil. You and me seem to be able to 
get along even if nobody else could do it with you. I'm not kidding 
you, my job depends on coming through this year. I'll take you 
on and if you can really help us come through before the end of 
the season, I'll have a good chance of getting you on as coach." 

I heard Phil growling and I wondered why he should kick 
about a proposition like that. But he took it because he was in 
uniform the next day. 

"Well, you had to call on the Old Timer," he said. "I told you 
I'd be back." 

His voice was jeering and sharp and a few of the boys stopped 
dressing to look at him hard. They let it drop. We had plenty 
of worrying to do about hanging on ourselves and somehow we did, 
even with Phil complaining all the time because George didn't have 
to put him in, not even once. When the Cards came east for the 
final series it was us or the Bucs. If we won the last two games from 
the Cards we'd finish a couple of percentage points in front. 

We pulled through in the first game two to one and Ed Corwin 
went all the way for us. Phil kept grousing about getting a chance. 

The next afternoon, we stood to win or lose the flag. George told 
Phil to get out to the bull pen as usual and Phil began to grouse 
about what was the use of throwing them in that hot sun in the 
bull pen and stuff like that. 

We did all right. Frank Johnson hit one into the right field 
boxes in the fourth and that put us three runs ahead. But the Cards 
picked up a couple in the sixth and in the seventh they would have 
gone ahead because Jack Marshbanks passed two men and it was 
only a running catch near the wall by Charley that kept us out 
of the soup. 

In the eighth Marshbanks gave another pass. A single and an- 



k 



386 Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

other pass filled the bases. George waved Marshbanks out, and in 
from left field comes old Phil. 

George O'Leary came over from the bench and said: "Well, 
here's what you been asking for. Now let's see it." Phil only looked 
at him. 

We had two out, but Al Breslow, the Cards' first baseman, could 
powder that old apple. A hit would mean the ball game for the 
Cards. Phil took his time warming up. He slipped one in, lost 
his man and finally got it up to two and two. Breslow fouled a 
couple off and Phil was standing on the hill watching Breslow, 
when suddenly he walked back toward second base. He started 
over toward me. 

"Why the hell don't you get in position?" he shouted. 

I didn't know what he was talking about. He kept on coming 
toward me still shouting and waving his arms. Nick trotted across 
from short-stop. 

"You can't do that to me!" Phil kept shouting. 

It didn't make any sense. Two umpires came over and then Phil 
gave me a stiff push and I nearly knocked the umpires over. No- 
body knew what it was all about. 

The fight stopped as quick as it began and Phil went back on the 
mound. He wound up and sent as sharp a breaking curve as you 
would want to see right past Breslow and Breslow swung hard and 
missed. He left the bases loaded when he missed that third one. 

The crowd went wild. We pushed another run over and the next 
inning held them tight and when the crowd poured out of the stands 
we were in. 

Half a dozen of us made for Dinty's that night. As I was com- 
ing in I ran into Phil. 

"You sure did it," I said. "But let me in on something. What 
were you doing when you tried to start a fight in the eighth?" 

"Hell, boy," he said. "I'm supposed to be a trouble maker, ain't 
I? And the umpires watch pretty close, don't they?" ^ 

"Yeah," I said. "So what?" 

"Well," Phil said, "the spitter's barred so I just started a row 
and everybody gets excited and the umpires are watching some- 
thing else and I put the old spit on her and I breeze that curve 
past Breslow." 

I guess the girls will get through college all right and I guess 
Phil will be a mighty valuable man to have around as coach next 
year because you can't beat an old trouble maker like that. 



The Denton Mare 

Dj Eawin Lannatn 



The mule-eared rabbit cleared a clump of cactus in a long, stiff 
jump and shot off at an angle. Clay almost lost his seat as the 
black filly wheeled to follow. The rabbit dived into the mesquite 
and Clay pulled the filly in. He laughed and said aloud, "Honey, 
you could beat the Denton mare." 

Tom Drew rode alongside the filly. "Son, how many times have 
I told you not to run your horse after jackrabbits.? You want to 
break her wind.^" 

"This little filly just likes to run, Pop." The horse held her 
small head high, and Clay stroked her foam frothed neck. "Pop, 
she's part antelope. I bet you she could beat the Denton mare." 

Tom Drew shook his head. "No horse ever beat that Sam Bass 
mare. I seen her run last year." 

"I wish I could see her." 

"I heard Sam Bass say yesterday that he'd sold her." 

"You saw Sam Bass.^" Clay asked excitedly. "You mean he's 
here in town?" 

"He was yesterday." 

"I'd sure like to see him. Gee, why did he ever sell the Denton 
mare? Why, she's the fastest horse in North Texas — except 
Honey !" 

Tom chuckled. "Son," he said. "How'd you like to run your 
little filly in a scrub race?" 

"Gee, Pop! You mean it?' 

"Kinkead thinks a lot of his long-legged bay, and he wants to 
make a match. There'll be some races Saturday." 

"Give us a chance at him. Pop. Oh, let Honey race him !" The 
filly caught his excitement and spun on her heels. 

"You got LO have a stake. Clay." 

Clay took quick inventory. All he had to call his own were his 
star-topped boots and his saddle. He said, "I'll put up my saddle." 

"All right. I'll allow you twenty dollars on it. I'll put up the cash 
for you. But remember, if you lose you're bareback." 

When Saturday came Clay had the filly ready under a post-oak 

387 



388 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

tree long before the race. He saw J. P. Kinkead, the storekeeper, 
holding the big bay near the start of the quarter-mile straightaway. 

Clay had to admire the bay, beside which his filly seemed im- 
mature and delicate, as Tom Drew led her to the start. Jeff Rogers, 
the starter, waited, gun in hand. Clay stroked the filly's neck. She 
was trembling, waiting for his shout. Clay watched Rogers and 
saw his left eyelid twitch just before he pulled the trigger. 

Clay leaned forward and felt the drive of the filly beneath him 
as he shouted, "Come on, you Honey !" The line of horses beside 
the track was a blur that quickly came to focus at the finish line 
ahead. The filly's hoofs drummed over the line and he was out on 
the prairie, in the open, and the big bay was three lengths behind. 

Tom Drew waited for him under the post-oak tree. Clay laughed 
and cried, "It was easy. Pop, I told you she was fast enough to 
beat the Denton mare." 

Tom smiled and went to get his horse. Clay slid to the ground. 
He rubbed Honey's broad forehead and put one arm around her 
neck. He was embarrassed when a low voice said in his ear, "Nice 
little filly you got there, bub." 

A slim young man came into the shade and walked around the 
filly. He felt her knees, appraised her chest and hocks. "What do 
you want for her?" 

"She ain't for sale," Clay said. 

The man's dark eyes had a teasing expression. "Don't blame 
you. What do they call you, boy?" 

Clay sized him up through narrowed lids as he fondled the filly's 
tapering muzzle. He said, "Clay Drew." 

"I'm Sam Bass." 

Clay stared. "Sam Bass !" He went around the filly to get near 
the slim young man. "Say, Mr. Bass, did you see my filly run? 
How would she make out against the Denton mare?" 

"She'd give her a race. You got a quarter horse here, boy." 

Clay grinned and called to his father as he came up, leading his 
dun horse. "Pop, this here is Sam Bass." 

"I know Sam," Tom Drew said. 

"He says Honey is as good as the Denton mare." 

"Get on your filly. Clay, we got to go." 

As they rode home Tom said, "He's got a great love of horses, 
Sam Bass, but he ain't in a class with his mare. They say down 
Denton way he poisoned a horse trough once to win a race." 



The Denton Mare 389 

Clay chased no more jackrabbits on the filly. He staked out a 
quarter mile on a level stretch of prairie and began to train her. 
Several times Sam Bass rode out from town to watch and one day 
Tom Drew drove past in a wagon while Sam was there. 

"I came out to help the boy train," Sam Bass explained. "He's 
a right smart rider." 

Tom looked at Sam. "This is a cattle ranch, not a racing stable. 
There'll be no more races." 

Sam Bass smiled. "That filly is a race horse, and it would be too 
bad not to run her. Say, I run onto a feller in town this morning 
wants to make a match. Says his horse can outrun anything in 
Texas." 

"I bet he can't outrun Honey," Clay said. 

"That's enough. Clay." Tom Drew frowned. "I'm on my way 
to town and I won't be back to supper." 

Tom Drew did not return until late. Clay sat up in bed and 
called, "I'm awake. Pop." 

Tom opened the door. The lamp in his hand outlined the rueful 
smile on his face. "Son, I set you a damn bad example," he said. 

"What, Pop.?" 

"There was a feller in town talking mighty big. Feller from 
San Antone named Joel Collins. Talked about a horse of his and 
Sam Bass put in about your filly and first thing I knew we'd made 
a match for a week from Saturday and a mighty big bet. Thousand 
dollars to be paid at the bank at the end of the race." 

"Yippee!" Clay sat up in bed. "Pop, we'll win it. Honey will 
sure win that race." 

"She's got to win it, Son," Tom Drew said. 

When the race day came Clay knew that Honey was ready. The 
tremendous driving leap of her start, so important in a quarter 
mile race, was drilled to perfection. When he took her to the track 
he kept her under the trees by the creek and sat on a stump watch- 
ing the crowd. 

Tom Drew came to him a few minutes before the race, his eyes 
hard. "Clay, that's the horse you're going to race, that sorrel 



mare." 



She was small, quick-moving, and a white hind foot caught 
Clay's eye. A short man in a dusty black hat held her halter. 

"You got a big bite to chew," Tom said. "I've seen that sorrel 
run. That's the Denton mare." 



890 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 



Clay stared, and his throat tightened. "You sure, Pop?'^ 

"See that nigh hind foot. That's the Denton mare, all right." 

"Pop, I'll ask Sam Bass." 

"He's on his horse down at the finish line." Tom slumped down 
on the stump, shaking his head. "Sam Bass tricked me into this 
match, Clay. It was him took me around to see Joel Collins. Him 
and Joel are partners." 

"Pop, we can beat her," Clay said. "Honey is better than ever, 
and you ought to see how fast she gets away." 

Tom looked up quickly. "Son, you give me an idea. You can 
ride like an Indian. Rip that saddle off the filly." 

"Ride her bareback?" 

"Yes. That Denton mare was always slow starting. Over at 
Denton, Sam had a mound of dirt couple feet high to help her get 
away, and a colored boy who rode her bareback." 

Tom Drew took the saddle from the filly, helped Clay to her 
bare back and led the horse to the starting line. Joel Collins was a 
small man but he outweighed Clay by fifty pounds and the mare 
had a saddle to carry as well. 

"Hey," Collins said. "Nothing was said about riding bareback." 

"Nothing's going to be said about it now," Tom Drew said in 
a steely tone. "You can slip off your saddle if you want." 

"How about it, Jeff?" Collins said. 

The starter shrugged and gave Collins a hostile glance. "The 
kid can ride naked if he wants." 

Collins hesitated, then grinned. "Hell, this mare can't be beat. 
I'll keep my saddle." 

Clay knew a trick himself he had said nothing of, even to his 
father. In the other race he had noticed Jeff closed one eye before 
he pulled the tngger. 

Clay's knees pressed the filly's sides. He could feel the gathering 
of her muscles for the start and he watched Jeff's left eye. He saw 
the slight twitch of the eyelid. 

"Come on. Honey !" he yelled, and his shout was lost in the crash 
of the gun. But he had a head-start and the sorrel was in the dust 
at Honey's heels. 

Clay's head was down so far that the filly's mane whipped his 
face. Halfway down the track he heard the sound of the sorrel's 
hoofs. The mare was creeping up and Clay saw her bleached mane 
flying at his shoulder. She was all the horse they said she was. 



The Denton Mare 391 

Joel Collins was using his quirt, and the finish line was close 
ahead. The black and sorrel necks were stretched out together. 
They were nose to nose. Clay's cheek nearly touched the filly's ear 
as he shouted, "Honey, beat that mare!" and he felt her drive for- 
ward, then they were over the line. 

He heard whoops and saw the judges waving as he turned back. 
He rode slowly up to them. J. B. Kinkead was beating his saddle- 
horn. Clay was afraid to ask, and his voice trembled, "Who won?" 

"Boy, you and her by half a length. I never seen such a drive 
as that filly put on at the finish." 

"Clay !" His father galloped up, waving his hat. "You done it, 
Son ! You beat the Denton mare." 

All at once Clay could talk. "It wasn't only the start. Pop. We 
won the start but we won the race, too. We was all even and Honey 
pulled ahead and won." 

Then Kinkead's voice rose about the clamor. "The Denton 
mare? Where is she?" 

"Why, she ain't stopped running," Tom Drew said. "He don't 
aim to pay off." 

Clay saw the sheen of the sorrel's hide far away. And beside 
her ran another horse. 

"It's Sam Bass with him," Tom Drew said. "I guess they was 
afraid of the filly all along, and planned to keep going if the mare 
lost. Well, no use taking after 'em." 

"Pop, what do we care?" Clay shouted. "Honey beat the Den- 
ton mare!" 

As they rode home together, with Honey on a halter beside 
Clay's cow pony, Tom Drew said, "Clay, you were born knowing 
about horses, but you got to learn for yourself how some men are 
made. I reckon you've had your fill of horse racing now." 

"I don't know. Pop. I'd like to race that mare again, all even. 
Honey beat her, but we had to use some tricks ourselves." His eyes 
shone proudly. "But I know Honey would win again." 

"Clay, I reckon you learned something," Tom Drew said, and 
his eyes held a prouder light than his son's. 



The Champeen of the World 

Ly E award L. McKenna 



Some time ago, but not so long that the book won't prove it, two 
welterweights fought up at the ball park for the lightweight cham- 
pionship of the world. If they were satisfied to give or take a 
pound, who else should complain? Call them Eddie and Joe. 

They had boxed before, over at the Garden. That was a more 
spectacular fight, more action in it, more excitement for the boys 
in the cheap seats. At the ball park they knew all about each 
other and it was just precision and timing and careful boxing and 
accuracy, and maybe it was a little dull. Neither was a first-class 
showman ; they were a little too honest. No business could be done 
with either of them. Eddie did bet on his fights: he bet on him- 
self. Joe never bet, probably because his wife wouldn't let him. 
Eddie had a wife, too, generally. 

It was a delight to see them, wherever, whenever they fought, 
and against anybody. They were lithe and quick and dangerous 
and smart and brave. Each was knocked out once when he was 
coming up: Eddie at the Saint Nick; Joe at the Cambria, where 
he was boxing in b.v.d.'s and a pair of ninety-eight cent shoes. 
The experience had not taught them cowardice. 

This bout up at the ball park was a disappointment to many 
and to others it was a dream of perfection. Pat O'Brien refereed 
it; at the end, he looked worse than either of them. All he had to 
do was to tap them on their wet and glistening backs; he never 
had to go between them. "Break! All right now, boys! Break!" 
They'd break; they'd drop their hands and glide away from each 
otlier, falling into position like the colored glass in a child's toy, and 
there would be Pat O'Brien skipping about like Buttercup in Pin- 
afore, anxious, solicitous as a mother hen. 

Many people hate and abominate professional boxing. Their 
point of view is to be considered and respected. At its best, it is 
beautiful and fine and clean. This bout could have taken place in a 
drawing room, and many a meaner, dirtier one has. There was no 
blood; there were no knockdowns; there was no false jocosity or 
amiability, no slapping each other on the back; no words of any 

392 



[The Champeen of the World 393 

kind passed between them. It was deadly serious ; each had met his 
match and couldn't and wouldn't believe it. They were trying every 
minute, with everything they knew, except with cheap and pal- 
try tricks which they disdained and discarded. Once Eddie had 
Joe off balance, turned sideways to him ; he didn't lower his hands 
and walk away, to wait for cheers ; he sparred daintily till Joe got 
set and then he went after him like a mongoose and got a nice left 
to the mouth for his pains. 

It was like that, it was all like that. Anything could happen, 
nothing did. It ended, as all such bouts should end, not in the mid- 
dle of the ring and a flurry of wild blows, but with each of them 
shuffling and shifting and stalking the other. Fresh, eager, un- 
beaten, even then they could have taken any man their size in the 
world. 

The gong rang twice; they dropped their hands and then 
reached out and touched each other and went to their corners. 
In a moment Pat O'Brien lifted his pudgy arm. "The Winner — 
and still Champion," he said, and Joe went bounding out of his 
corner, his hands straight out, the knuckles down and Eddie came 
running to meet him, his hands the same way. They touched each 
other's soggy gloves; each muttered something and bobbed his 
head. One had just kept the championship of the world, the other 
had lost it. There was also the matter of the percentage of about 
a quarter of a million dollars. 

Within a couple of years, Joe retired before anything really bad 
happened to him ; Eddie lost his championship and four or half a 
dozen fights, besides. He wasn't down-and-out, he wasn't broke; 
he'd kept some of his hard-earned money. Joe, who couldn't be clas- 
sified by his dearest friends as being anything like Einstein, had 
been prudent and lucky and, in his way, even pretty good in 
business. 

From the night they met each other that second time, Eddie and 
Joe were the best, the closest of friends. Eddie wouldn't put a foot 
into this town without stopping to see Joe, and Joe's house was 
Eddie's castle. A pleasure to see them in the ring, for those at 
least who like it, it was a greater pleasure to see them out of it. 
Eddie had a bad ear ; Joe had a broken nose. Outside of that, no- 
body would ever guess them to be professionals. 

Plainly, expensively, immaculately dressed, quiet and clean- 
spoken, they had the air and manner of distinguished men. They 



394j Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

weighed about one-fifty-eight or a hundred and sixty pounds ; they 
were proud and careful of their bodies. Eddie never smoked nor 
drank. Joe might have a little French and Italian vermouth or a 
dry martini before his dinner; a package of cigarettes would last 
liim for three days. He played handball and took hot showers. 
Eddie had money worries, which tend to keep the weight down. 

Joe would meet Eddie on the station platform. Eddie, as former 
champion of the world, wouldn't carry a suitcase or a bag; there 
are porters for that. Joe didn't drive his own car; a broken-down 
fighter used to do that for him. Eddie and Joe would walk toward 
each other as they used to walk, as if nobody else in the world were 
there; they'd put out their hands, perpendicular now, and grab 
each other. "What do you say, Eddie?" "How you doing, Joe.^" 
Walking a little apart, as stately as two tigers, they'd go down the 
ramp. "Know who them two is.? Know who they is.?" "Sure, that's 
Joe the Butcher, everybody knows him." "No, but the other one, 
that's Eddie Kennedy. Eddie Kennedy ! They fought for the cham- 
pionship of the world." Music unheard is sweeter still; stolid, im- 
passive, Joe and Eddie would walk along as if bathrobes were still 
fluttering about their heels. 

Joe and his wife had many a conversation about Eddie. "Ida, 
I ask you," Joe would say, "what's that guy think he is? He thinks 
my house is a hotel, huh? Every time he comes here, he brings you 
a big bottle of Chanel Number Five. He's got to give Louis a finnif 
for driving him. He brings presents to all the kids. I'm going to 
speak to that guy, Ida." 

"Joe! The poor fellow! He hasn't got any kids, any home. He 
comes here; it's like his home. You never smell a drop of liquor 
on him and no spearmint, either." 

"Oh, no! No! He never touches it." 

"I wish that fellow could get a good girl, Joe." 

"Him ! Well, it wouldn't be for not trying. Remember that babe 
I told you about, the one up at the Garden? I think he was even 
married to her at the time. She keeps yelling, 'Get him, Eddie! 
Kill that pork-and-beaner, Eddie ! Kill that club fighter ! Send him 
back to Phillie.' Yeah, I try to knock him in her lap — I could do 
nothing with him. He was all right, that fellow." 

"You know what he told Junior? He told him, 'Your pop was 
very good, in close. All the Philadelphia boys are good in-fighters. 



I 



The Champeen of the World 395 

Your pop was the best. But he never clinches ; he never hangs on ; 
he never tries to rough you up.' " 

"He tells Junior that, huh? Well. Well, you see, Toots, that's 
the way we learned. Fighting in the amateurs, over at the Bijou, 
the burlesque theatre. Sometimes they might just as well put the 
two of you in a cellar. You learn how to take care of yourself 
like that, you know — So — So he tells Junior that, huh? Ida — you 
know — you know, I don't think he's going so good — I — He's a 
funny kind of fellow, Ida. You can't talk to him about it. He'd 
knock your block off. He's, he's kind of an educated fellow, too, 
Ida. He told me his people wanted him to be a priest." 

"A priest?" said Ida. "How many times he been married, 
now?" said Ida. 

"Yeah. Yeah, I know," said Joe. 

It's possible that Eddie knew exactly who it was came to him 
\\dth backing for a bar-and-grill in New York; maybe he did not. 
It was one of Joe's friends, and one of Eddie's friends, too. It 
was just another venture for Eddie, anyway. Joe the Butcher 
Schultz came over for his opening and stayed three days. There 
were pictures of them both in the papers, two middle-aged men 
squaring off at each other, pictures of them in property white coats 
tending bar side by side. Between them they would have had trouble 
mixing a Scotch and soda. They hated liquor. The captions gave 
their names prominence. "Champion and Contender Meet Again — 
Eddie Kennedy and Joe the Butcher Schultz." "Eddie Kennedy, 
Former Champion of the World, Poses with Joe the Butcher." 
Ida clipped the photographs and pasted them in Joe's scrapbook. 
Joe always professed not to be interested in this large album, but 
Ida had caught him looking at a picture of himself, from the old 
Ledger i the time he fought Tom McKeon. After that she saved 
every notice, every small mention of him. There was a fine column by 
Frank Graliam, in the Sun, about all the lightweights from the time 
of Joe Gans and Frankie Erne, and one by Ed VanEvery, a little 
piece about Eddie by Paul Gallico, a mention of Whitey Fitzgerald 
by Bill Dooly, referring to the memorable fight between Mooney 
and Fitzgerald, in which Dooly said, "But it was when Whitey 
fought Joe the Butcher Schultz that he knew he had come to the 
end of the trail, because Joe the Butcher had the class . . ." Well, 
so Joe did have class. He was, as they say, a very stylish fighter. 

Eddie's bar-and-grill wasn't a great success ; he closed it, quite 



396 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

honorably, and a little ahead of the sheriff. Eddie had no knack 
for business. His luck had come to him before he was thirty; the 
rest of his life was a retrospect, the fitful retrospect of a man who 
once thought he saw the downward curve of the rainbow's arc 
just before him. 

It wasn't the end for him; it was just another bad guess. He 
wasn't champion of the world for nothing ; he kept right on going. 
Pursuing one more of his will-o'-the-wisps, he was going out to 
Chi, to start in again all over. He dropped a line to Joe, and there 
was Joe to meet him at the station. 

"What do you say, Eddie?" "How you doing, Joe?" Sedate, 
majestic, they walked together. Joe was fighting a losing battle 
with a paunch ; Eddie's hair was almost a too-aggressive black. 

There wasn't much of a murmur now, an obbligato that they 
disdained to hear. Who'd remember them ? Why, who was the block- 
ing back for Ernie Nevers, for Albie Booth, for Bruce Caldwell, 
for Light Horse Harry Lee? Who made the pace for Charlie Pad- 
dock? Who rode thigh to thigh with Snapper Garrison? What horse 
was a fair bet against Sysonby? One time, people could have told 
you, not now, not any more. One time you're the best in the world, 
and it's not for long. 

Eddie went to Joe's house; it was a routine with them, a cere- 
monial. Louis had to get his tip from Eddie and Ida had to exclaim 
over her bottle of perfume. Eddie wasn't broke yet. 

"Where's Junior?" he said. 

"Well. Well, Junior, he'll be here," said Joe, looking at the 
three-dollar neckties Eddie had brought for his eldest son. 

"Well ! Why, sure," said Eddie. "Now, look, Henry — This is a 
model airplane I got. Alex, I brought you something I always 
wanted myself. A Punch and Judy show, see? You put your hands 
in, see, and you make Punch and Judy dance or fight or fall over, 
anything you want, see? A darb, huh? You bet you. Little Ida, 
you're getting so big, I brought you a bottle of perfume, too, like 
your mother — Listen! When do we eat around here? Not like the 
old days, hey, Joe, a lamb chop and a piece of lettuce and hop on 
the scales. And hearing those leapfrogs, all the time, haaghr, 
haaghr ! Boy, I'd rather train on the Sandy Hook Light-Ship . . ," 

Dinner over, the kids were dismissed and sent to bed. Ida was 
bustling about ; Joe and Eddie were staring ahead of them, looking 
at nothing, just as they used to before the clanging of a bell. 



The Champeen of the World 397 

They had little to say to each other. They knew each other too 
well. They had been contenders, they had been the two best men 
of their size in the United States. Their small talk went like this. 
" 'Jever hear anything about Johnny McCloskey.? A good boy. 
They brought him along too fast." "Eddie, you remember Johnny 
Meally? Always asks to be remembered to you . . ." "Joe, remem- 
ber Irish Patsy Cline.? Remember the time I boxed him.?" "I saw him 
one time. I saw him box Eddie McAndrews. T'ch ! Was that some- 
thing ! You remember the way he go, with his head ? He was a good 
boy, that boy." "Little Schugroe! That Schugroe! Listen! Listen, 
Joe. One time I box K. O. George Chayney. I shade him ; all right, 
so I shade him. All that night, after I take him, my stomach's like 
in a cast. He was a good boy, Joe." "Bennie Valger, Eddie. You 
remember Bennie Valger? The French Flash, they called him. He 
got the decision over K. 0. George Chayney. I boxed him one time. 
Hey, Eddie, You remember Joe Tiplitz.? . . ." 

They had fought, the two of them, two hundred men. Many 
they scarcely remembered. There it is, on their records. "K. O. Two 
rounds." "K.O. Five rounds." "No Decision." "No Decision." They 
weren't just great boxers. They were fighters. Small fellows, game- 
cocks, who scrapped in the smoke-filled clubs in Boston, in Balti- 
more, at the old Claremont Rink in Brooklyn, at the Pioneer, up at 
the Velodrome, in the National and the Arena. 

"Don't sit up too late, you boys," Ida would say. Sit up 
late.? They weren't used to doing that. Eddie, well, Eddie wasn't 
much of a family man in his day, that's true, but he'd never been 
inclined to stay up late unless there was a woman to listen to 
him. They used to go on, to fight, at ten o'clock at night, and they'd 
eat a little something after it was over. They weren't intellectual 
fellows. Perhaps that is clear. 

"You going to Chicago, Eddie?" "Yes." "You got a Pull- 
man?" "Yes. 11:40 out of the station." "O. K., I go down with 
you, Eddie." "O. K., Joe." 

That was about the last time they ever saw each other. Eddie 
went out to Chi, and did about as he always did, except when they 
were saying, "In this cor-nah — Eddie Ken-ne-dy, of Bridgeport, 
the Cham-peen of the World. Weighing — weighing — a hundred 
and thirty-two and a half pounds." He was wonderful, then, wonder- 
ful, the way he would come out and be introduced, keeping his 
eyes downcast, his face composed, his hair sleek and shining under 



398 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

the lights. Nobody who saw him will ever forget him. Joe the 
Butcher, yes, of course, a very fine fighter, good style, lots of 
class, plenty of heart, one of the best. But there was only one Eddie 
Kennedy ever. 

Joe heard from him after Pearl Harbor. He was a boxing in- 
structor, up at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station : Lieutenant 
Edward Joseph Kennedy. 

Three months later he got it, just the way he'd have chosen. 
Not a strep throat, not pneumonia, not T.B. nor the broken heart 
that comes to a proud man after five or six years of courtesy jobs 
or cadging for small loans. They knocked Eddie Kennedy out of the 
sky when they were flying him and seven other officers to the coast. 

It developed that he had left a will which was drawn in 1937 by 
Counselor Louis F. McCabe and deposited with him. He must have 
had plenty of money then: the bequests were substantial. Several 
were to women : his latest w^f e was the beneficiary of his war-risk 
insurance though he had not lived with her for years. 

There was a donation of 5,000 dollars to the Veteran Boxers 
Association. The rest of his estate was left to Joseph, otherwise, 
Joe the Butcher Schultz. 

When they came to count up what he had, they found it was 
about two or three thousand dollars— -not nearly enough to pay 
the heirs who were named. 

Joe the Butcher, learning this sad news, had a private confer- 
ence with Counselor McCabe. "Listen, Counselor," he said. "I 
don't care anything about those babes. They were no good, none 
of them was any good. But this here h\e grand to the Veteran 
Boxers. That's different. I'll pay that, for Eddie. Like it would 
come from Eddie, see.^" 

"You want this to be paid, as if it came from his estate .f^" 

"Yeah. That's the idea. It's a good outfit. They help old fighters 
when they're down and out. Not much; they give them something, 
try to get them a job, all like that. They send some flowers, when you 
die, if they hear about it. I and Eddie always belonged to it. Eddie 
would hate to look cheap. There was not anything cheap about 
him." 

"All right, Joe. I'll see what I can do." 

Joe did get something out of Eddie's estate. The counselor 
brought them around to Joe in an envelope. "These were on one of 
Eddie's uniforms," he said. "I thought you'd like to have them." 



The Champeen of the World 399 

Joe put them in his pocket. "I'll save them," he said. "Maybe my 
kid will wear them. He can tell everybody, 'Them bars belonged 
to the Champeen of the World." 

"He can say that, all right," the counselor said. 



The Red Shuffler Stays In 

Ly Patu Annixter 



He belonged to old Cam Calloway and a more incongruous owner 
could hardly have been imagined. Cam was a southern piney un- 
troubled by ambition. His farm was scratched out of the scrub 
in the Florida back country. 

Cam acquired Ginger Buck quite by chance. The old fern- 
jumper went out one morning in spring to find Buck, then but a 
leggy, half-grown cockerel, stalking about the dooryard while the 
rest of the fowls, including the big Wyandotte rooster, perched on 
the fence, on the cowshed roof and in the trees, all of them pecked 
and draggled and spattered with their own blood. 

Buck was a line-bred cross of the Southern Claret and Shawl- 
neck strains, w4th an admixture of the hardy, furious-fighting Ori- 
ental Aseel. The blood of three of the most unquenchably coura- 
geous fighting creatures, pound for pound, the world has ever known 
fused in his veins. Cam had him for nearly a year before he found 
out what manner of fowl he was. To Cam, during all that time, 
Buck was just "that gol-ding ginger-color chicken rooster" that 
kept tearing into his livestock. The fowls once conquered. Buck 
extended the sphere of his influence to the two hounds, the three 
pigs, the cat, the cow and the old work horse. Within a week every 
animal on the place bore the red tracery of his disciplining. 

One day in his third week on the place Buck caught one of the 
roosters by the wattles and played a tattoo on his chest with dag- 
gered heels until he fell dead. Cam stormed forth with his twelve- 
gauge shotgun to do away with Buck. The shot went wild. Buck 
fled away into the woods and for the next two days every time he 
returned Cam or Sissy, his leggy, fifteen-year-old daughter, was 
waiting to drive him off again. 

But Buck kept coming back to the barnyard. 

It was in his second month at the farm that he earned his right 
to remain. He had been away in the woods again for three days 
and had returned one dawn. Old Cam heard a violent commotion 
in the yard and crept forth with his rifle. What he saw in the first 
gray light made him stare in dumb amazement. 

400 



The Red Shuffler Stays In 401 

A mink had just killed a young pullet in the run. Up on the 
highest roosts huddled the rest of the chickens, squawking in agon- 
ized terror. Around the mink in mincing circles. Ginger Buck was 
doing a sort of weird dance. 

Cam was lifting his rifle when Buck came suddenly in at the 
killer. He swooped on fiercely beating wings, with vicious peck 
and cunning cruel stroke of the spurs so rapid as to be invisible. 
The mink aimed snakelike for the cockerel's throat, only to foul his 
jaws in Buck's hard breast feather. Ember-eyed, he lanced in 
again and Buck got a billhold on fur and shuffled bloody gashes 
across the mink's neck and shoulders and punctured one of his eye- 
balls — all in the small end of a second. 

Hissing like a snake, disregarding the burst eyeball, the mink 
came in again and again. But he was fighting a living flame. Buck 
was all around and over him, now and then grabbing a beakful of 
fur from which leverage he would turn loose his spur-shod feet like 
a buzz saw ; then leaping free and feinting with the skill of a boxer 
for a fresh opening. 

Simultaneously the mink got another j awful of feathers and 
Buck got a billful of fur. Round and round and over and over they 
whirled for perhaps forty seconds. Both were natural infighters, 
neither would release his hold. Then Buck tore loose and the snake- 
like body of the mink whipped blindly against the chicken wire. 
His other eye had gone. He was done. But he fought on to the end, 
grimly trying to find his foe. 

From that time on Cam never took another shot at Buck. And 
Buck on his part, never lingered long at the farm. In his journeys 
into the surrounding woods he had been learning another kind 
of life, far more intriguing than that of the barnyard. In the miles 
of scrub pine and fern jungle Buck had found adventure. He 
was like a wanderer returned to his heath. The touch of Oriental 
blood in his veins accounted for this, direct heritage of the wild 
jungle cock, the prototype of all game fowl — a bird that fought to 
the death with its naked heels for thousands of years in the jungles 
of India. 

The summer was drawing to a close now. September was at hand. 
Buck's second September. He had reached full growth and achieved 
the coveted five pound weight for fighting cocks. 

This was the time spoken of in the old cocking manuals. "Time 
when the year old cock will leave food or mate to give battle to any 



40^ Esquire^s Second Sports Reader 

adversary. Time when the cocker carefully feeds his bird with the 
crumb of old manchet cut into square bits, at sun rising, when 
the sun is in its meridian, and at sun setting ; or with herb of grace, 
rosemary, hyssop and butter, alternating this at times with a diet 
of ale, egg and butter, baked into a kind of biscuit with the addition 
of wheat flour. 

''In between these feedings," say the books, "the cocker will 
carefully set his cock to spar with another gamecock for a few min- 
utes, or lacking a cock of the game, let him pursue a dunghill 
rooster till he sweateth and panteth." 

Buck's diet and the rest of his training would have made any 
cock breeder weep with exasperation. There were, however, certain 
decisive factors at work in Buck's development. 

The battle with the mink had been only one of scores of similar 
death struggles waged in the forest. He had plied back and forth 
through a hundred square miles hunting trouble and finding it in 
the form of blacksnakes and water moccasins, which he had learned 
to chevy into the open and shuffle to death in two or three minutes. 
Finding it, too, in the form of coons and skunks who had never 
learned that a chicken was anything but a handy meal, until 
Buck appeared a chicken of whalebone, whose spur stroke made 
their fastest parry seem slow. 

Buck had led off with a conquest of the deer people. It was 
a walkaway. At Buck's first fierce frontal attack the timid, shadowy 
deer would be off in a series of prodigious bounds. 

When Buck had his first brush with the bear tribe he was strut- 
ting his stuff on a rotten log one day. Out of the thicket waddled 
a black furry creature with a miniature of itself scampering along- 
side. The she-bear had hijacked many a delicious meal of fowl from 
some remote settler's clearing. She reared on her hind legs and 
advanced. Hackles lifted. Buck danced on the log. His chest went 
out and his whole being went into a clarion crow. 

At the startling cry, so connected in her mind with the abodes 
of men, the old bear slapped her cub on his fat stern and the two 
of them dashed away into the woods. Buck with slash and peck 
sped the cowards on their way. 

Soon after this, however, he met the lord paramount of all the 
wild killers of those parts, an old tom lynx. Masterfully the lynx 
had stalked the stray chicken up wind, and he was about to scoop 
the tidbit off the low limb where Buck slept. Buck opened an eye 



The Red Shuffler Stays In 403 

and crowed in startled challenge. In the same instant he shot 
like a feathered dart into the round cruel face of the killer. Like 
most of his kind, the lynx ran mainly to bluff. The startling 
loudness and unexpectedness of the crow was too much for his 
high-tension nervous system, and soon he was a hundred yards 
away and still going. 

All through the wonderful golden weeks of fall Buck continued 
his wanderings. Then came October, time of great unrest in the 
forest world, time of madness among the game birds, when the 
cock partridge will attack deer, bear and even man himself, in the 
heat of the mating fever. 

Now was the time when Buck's battle madness was answered to 
the full by the tribe of birds. Time and again some old-man par- 
tridge, brave as any maniac, would challenge him to the death 
and there would be glorious battle lasting half an hour. The par- 
tridge always carried warfare into the air. They were twice as 
quick on the wing as Buck and he learned many a subtle trick of 
feint and parry that would never have come his way with bulkier 
opponents. 

What was all this doing to Buck's ego? By the time his high 
tide really came round in November he was a man fighting fool, 
fined down to nothing but beak, spur and sinew. 

It was Mr. Corey Tate who really brought Buck into his own. 
Mr. Corey rode out one day in November for one of his periodic 
hunting trips. He was a well-to-do orange grower from Tallahassee. 

Cam was sitting out under the Chinaberry tree when Mr. Corey 
arrived. Cam had never been so mortal low. His perennial slack- 
ness had caught up with him at last. The day before old Ira Eddy, 
the land man from whom Cam had taken up his timber claim, had 
sent notice to make up back payments or get out by next month. 

Cam had been offering up a prayer in his own way for the 
Lord to pass a miracle to save him. His wife. Flora May, was 
lying there in bed. She had been sick for two years and this would 
just about kill her. Cam didn't feel like going out with Mr. Corey 
but he couldn't refuse. 

They left soon after and there were three high days in the open. 
Cam could have fattened up on the food Mr. Corey had in his 
packs, but somehow he could not eat — not with Sissy and Flora May 
eking along on grease and grits. 



404! Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

They were back and Cam was unloading the duffle from the 
Ford when Ginger Buck came round the comer of the house. The 
dunghill fowl clucked nervously and dispersed. Mr. Corey's eye lit. 

"Quite a chicken you've got there, Cam," he said. "Some Shawl- 
neck — a bit of jungle, too." Mr. Corey Tate was a judge of line- 
bred fighting cocks. "I'd like to see him spar." 

"Just walk out there an' you'll see him plenty," said Cam. 

"Man fighter, eh? Got a good stance," ]\Ir. Corey went on criti- 
cally. "What's he weigh?" 

"Ain't never got near enough to try weighin' him," Cam replied. 

Mr. Corey's eye went to Buck's comb and wattles. "Look here. 
You've maybe got something here that'll surprise you. How'd you 
come by him?" 

"The danged critter just takened a notion to me," Cam said. 
"I come out one morning an' there he is aslashin' an' rippin' into my 
livestock. Where he come from I don't know." 

"That would have been about the middle of May, wouldn't it? I 
had a suspicion of it the moment I saw your bird. That chicken be- 
longed to old Ira Eddy ; bred on his place. He got away during the 
big fire last spring. One of the best bred cocks of the whole 
ninety-two he was, too. I can remember his name. Ginger Buck, 
I guess it was. But now he's yours; no law would deny that. Cam, 
I want to see that bird work. What do you say to my pitting him 
for you next week? There'll be a big hack fight down at Harney 
on Wednesday. Old man Eddy himself is holding this main." 

Fighting chickens for money — it was all Greek to Cam. 

"I'll clip your bird and ready him and I'll handle him and back 
him with a hundred dollars. If he wins, you take three quarters." 

They caught Buck \^'ith the aid of a gunny sack. Mr. Corey felt 
him over carefully. "Rawhide and whalebone. Keep him close- 
penned till the day of the main. Cam. Feed him nothing but lean 
beef and eggs or oysters. I'll have his feed sent from town — " 

Once more Mr. Corey drove out — the following Sunday — and 
Cam looked on in wonder at the process of trimming for the tan- 
bark. Buck's combs and wattles were pared off cleanly, his romp and 
neck hackles trimmed short and his tail cut to a short fan. Finally 
his wdngs were also trimmed feather by feather. 

Wednesday came at last and Cam drove down to Harney with 
Buck in a covered pen under the seat. Cam met Mr. Corey and the 



The Red Shuffler Stays In 405 

rest of that afternoon was spent billing Buck with other game- 
cocks, grooming him and fitting him out with long steel spurs. 

Shortly after dark, Mr. Corey, carrying Buck under his arm, led 
the way to an old deserted sawmill on the edge of town. At Mr. 
Corey's knock a man appeared and admitted them after flashing 
a lantern in their faces. In the dimly lighted interior a crowd of 
sixty or seventy men was gathered about a small spotlighted pit. 

Out in front of the benches, under a pall of blue tobacco 
smoke, five or six men moved up and down waving handfuls of 
greenbacks. 

"Twenty-five bucks on the Dom." 

"Twenty to ten on the Shawlneck. Who takes it?" 

"Fifty even the Dom won't go five pittings." 

Mr. Corey explained to Cam the high points. "Those two 
chickens over by the scales — they're fighting next. The fellows 
weighing them are the handlers. That Dom belongs to old Eddy. 
He'll probably win this fight." 

Mr. Corey was right. In the second fierce tangle Ira Eddy's 
gray Dominique drove his steel spur through his opponent's head 
and the Shawlneck was carried out by his tail. By this time Cam 
had succumbed to the excitement of the game. 

"Double doggone !" he muttered. "That grey was a scrapper." 

"Luck," said Mr. Corey. "The other bird didn't get a hold." 

The Dom was now pitted against a slow-moving Whitehackle. 
"If the Whitehackle lasts out the first minute he'll have the Dom 
sure," Mr. Corey predicted. And again he was right. The White 
stood up under a minute of slashing punishment, finally achieved a 
billhold and shuffled the Dom to death. 

Meantime men had been pausing to speak to Mr. Corey. The 
next Cam knew the pit was full of men again, Mr. Corey among 
them with Buck. He was to fight the victorious Whitehackle. Cam 
saw Buck weighed. For an instant the two cocks were allowed to peck 
each other from the arms of the handlers. Their necks strained for- 
w^ard, their hard yellow eyes glared. Buck looked rangy and 
ragged compared to the other bird. 

"Where'd yuh get that penwiper, Corey?" somebody laughed. 

"Let go!" cried the referee. 

The released birds met three feet in the air in a whirlwind of 
flying feathers, flashing spurs and bills. It was the Whitehackle who 



406 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

sprang back first. Ginger Buck was hampered by the unaccus- 
tomed spurs. The White drove a gleaming spur into Buck's breast. 

"Handle !" called the referee. 

Mr. Corey and the other man pulled the chickens apart. 

"Hurt yuh that time, Corey," called a voice. 

Cam rose from his seat. He thought the battle was lost. But 
Mr. Corey was holding Buck under one arm, massaging his head. 
Buck had been learning every instand and the second pitting he 
sparred, biding his time. Then, ignoring the lethal slashes of the 
Whitehackle, he bored in, breast to breast. He found a billhold and 
drew back, shuffling a bit on his own. One second and he was 
sounding his crow of victory. 

Mr. Corey Tate, with Buck under his arm, walked over to the 
man at the scales and received a handful of bills. 

The handlers brought out a stocky, pure black cock, a Red 
Cuban. 

"Three to one on the Cuban," called a voice. "Who wants it?" 

Mr. Corey stalled till the last possible second to resuscitate his 
bird. At the release the two cocks flew together with a thud, stroking 
so hard their blows could be heard at the far end of the sawmill. 
Neither had done much damage, but the Cuban was patently more 
powerful. Buck hadn't recuperated yet. 

"It won't be long now," grinned an Eddy backer. 

The Cuban, veteran of a dozen hack fights, was a leaping, slash- 
ing wing-fighter. Again and again he flew high and drew blood with 
practiced heel-beats. 

"The Cuban'll finish him in another minute," said a man be- 
hind Cam. 

Another pitting, ending in a rolling shuffling tangle. Buck un- 
derneath. 

"Still think yuh got a chance, Corey .'^" loudly called an Eddy 
gambler. "Five Hundred bucks against two says you're fazed." 

Mr. Corey, bending over his chicken, yelled, "That's a bet!" 

Cam squiraied and twisted on his bench. It looked like the end ; 
still Mr. Corey didn't seem excited. He was sponging Buck's head 
with water, running his finger along his throat, deftly stroking 
his crest. 

"On the line !" yelled the referee. 

As Mr. Corey and the other handler released their birds, there 
was an abrupt change. The Cuban had faded in the twenty seconds 



The Red Shuffler Stays In 40tj 

of rest, weakened badly, and Ginger Buck had suddenly tapped a 
new fount of life. 

In the two fierce minutes that followed, the grin of expectancy 
on the faces of the Eddy plungers turned to a look of puzzled con- 
sternation. For in every flurry Buck had a decided edge. The 
pitting ended when Buck leapt high and drove both spurs deep 
into the Cuban's back. 

Mr. Corey handled leisurely. He was in no hurry, for every 
second the Cuban was growing weaker and Buck stronger. 

When the birds were put on the line again, Ginger Buck 
scratched the planks, his neck stretched forward. The Cuban sagged 
dizzily, his head bogging to one side. There was another swift flurry, 
Buck's spurs flashed once; then he stretched his neck upward and 
crowed. The Eddy handler carried his dead chicken from the pit. 

Ill feeling was in the air now. Everyone expected Ginger Buck 
to be withdrawn, but it appeared Mr. Corey was staying in. The 
Eddy backers grinned like wolves and picked the best cock they 
had, a fiery Shawlneck, bred for speed. Bets ran three to one 
against Buck, but Mr. Corey did not even look the new contender 
over. Just before the pitting started he took Buck's head in his 
mouth as if he were sucking a lozenge; then he pressed his mouth 
against Buck's back and blew lustily for a moment. 

"Look at him warm that shuffller up. That boy's a sweet hand- 
ler, always was," said a man behind Cam. 

"Yeah, but that chicken's dead an' don't know it. I'll make it 
four to one on the Shawlneck." 

"Ready," called the referee. 

Mr. Corey stalled till the last possible second. He knew he was 
asking as impossible a thing of Ginger Buck as for a promoter to 
ask a human fighter for three championship battles in one night. 

The Shawlneck was a leaping, slashing fury. There were three 
full minutes of aerial bombardment in which Buck's shuffle was 
ineffective and he barely held his own. Twice Mr. Corey had to pull 
the Shawlneck's crimson-stained gaff from Buck's neck. How Buck 
managed to survive those three merciless minutes was a wonder 
to all. Staggering from weakness, bloody from head to tail, he 
fought a defensive fight, but he fought, every inch of the way. 
He just didn't know the meaning of quit. 

Again and again Cam Calloway went to his feet, his breath 
hasseling in his nostrils, for it seemed that Buck was down to stay. 



408 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

Then came the fifth pitting and once again as the two birds were 
released, a change was seen. Mr. Corey had banked all on that. 
Buck had revived again. He could no longer be overflown or out- 
maneuvered. But neither could he overfly the Shawlneck. A dozen 
times the two cocks thudded together, breast to breast, each re- 
coiling just the fraction of an inch necessary to avoid the other's 
death-dealing needles of steel. 

There was silence round the pit. Then the Shawlneck's gaff dark- 
ened one side of Buck's head. No one knew that till later. The next 
pitting both birds went into the air. There were thrusts and parries 
in that clash that no one rightly saw. When the pair landed the 
Shawlneck could no longer keep his feet. Weakly he pounded the 
turf ; then his head sank slowly to the turf. 

But Ginger Buck did not crow. He was staggering about, peck- 
ing at the air. Both sides of his head were dark now. A shout went 
up for the winning bird, but Buck did not know he had won his last 
battle. Mr. Corey handed him to Cam while he waited for the pay- 
off. A few standing close by wondered about the strange look that 
suddenly came over Cam's face. No one knew till later that Buck 
had just died under his arm. . . . 

It was one o'clock that night when Cam headed for home. He 
had just come from the house of old Ira Eddy, the landman, 
where he had erased in one grand gesture two years of back pay- 
ments on his farm. Wadded in the pocket of his jeans was the re- 
mainder of his winnings from the cocking main — ^two hundred and 
ten dollars — more than Cam had ever had at one time in his life. 

Under the buckboard seat a jug of corn liquor lay forgotten as 
the miles went by. Cam had tasted a higher fire that night than ever 
lived in the corn. 



The Monarcns Last Tanio 

Ly Robert Sylvester 



The monarch started forward as soon as the hard, white ball struck 
the frontwall. He picked up speed, turned into the granite sidewall 
and took three quick steps up its perpendicular height, like a man 
running up a short flight of stairs. The ball w^as coming back at 
him along the sidewall, high and hugging the surface the way extra 
spin w^ill make them do, but he trapped it in the curved basket 
and shoved himself clear of the wall with his feet. He wanted to make 
his return throw while he w^as still plummeting back to the court, 
but he felt the ball bounce crazily around in his basket and then 
fly out onto the court. 

These new pelotas were too light, he told himself in disgust. They 
weren't anything like the sound, true Basque balls which could be 
depended upon not to try any fancy Cuban tricks. These Havana 
pelotas acted just like Cubans. You never knew which way they 
were going. The Monarch blew in disgust and signaled for time out. 
He walked over to the low bench off the rear of the court, savagely 
ripping at the long binding cord w^hich laced the curved cesta— a 
reed basket woven to a supple frame — to his thick right hand. 

He made a brief show of examining his cesta for flaws. Actually, 
the cesta meant little to him, flaws or no flaws. The giant Negro 
who made cestas for all the Havana players, weaving them out of 
flat reed and cutting the leather gloves to tailored measurement, 
made his cestas by the dozen. He had none of the personal feeling 
for one that a ballplayer, for example, feels toward an old glove 
or bat. The Monarch used cestas as extravagantly as he used bath 
towels in the shower room. Once he had smashed nine cestas during 
a single thirty-point game — some by accident and some out of sheer 
temper. 

But he made a pretense of examining it closely while, actually, 
he was studying to see how his legs were behaving. He stood 
very still, for a minute, and assured himself that his legs hadn't 
started any telltale trembling. He looked carefully at the back of his 
right hand, ridged by the tight binding of the glove cord, and 
noted that the hand hadn't started to swell. It was important that he 

409 



410 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

know about these things, tonight. Tonight of all nights. He mustn't 
overestimate anything tonight. 

He leaned back on the bench, sweating healthily, and looked up 
the court. It stretched before him to the f rontwall 250 feet away, its 
green walls rising to the high-netted skylight of the huge audi- 
torium. Up forward his nimble frontwall partner, the blue-shirted 
Armando Martinez, walked jerkily back and forth. Dow^n at mid- 
court his white-shirted opponents. Piston and Guillermo, stood and 
talked things over, bobbing their heads up and down and talking 
in Basque. 

At his right, where the concrete of the concha floor ended in the 
red foul line and met the wooden floor of the auditorium, the ver- 
tical wire screen protected the tiers of customers. Down close to 
the floor level the customers stood in knots around the bookmakers, 
arguing and betting, and the tiers ran sharply up to the high boxes 
under the eaves, where Havana socialites and visiting Americanos 
del Norte sat in their boxes and drank what the messengers brought 
them. 

The Monarch sensed that everything was in its place, but he 
didn't bother to make sure. There really wasn't anything about this 
jai-alai concha — or any jai-alai concha anywhere in the world — 
that he didn't know all about. On this one he could about tell by the 
sound of the ball striking the frontwall just about how it was 
going to act on the rebound. And he could close his eyes on any part 
of the court and know just how many steps he could run before 
he'd crash into the vertical screen. He had been at it for twenty-five 
years, a quarter of a century. A long time. 

Too long, he thought, just to make himself feel better about 
what he had agreed to do. Had anybody else been an established 
professional pelotari, or player, at the age of eleven? Had anybody 
else been undisputed champion for fifteen consecutive years .^^ And 
wasn't he still a famous, if fading, star at the advanced age of thirty- 
six.? Well, then, nobody could say he hadn't been in it long enough 
or given it all he had, either. 

But somehow this reasoning didn't make him feel any better. 
The habits of twenty-five years aren't much more easily broken 
than the granite of the concha, and no matter how he argued with 
himself it still didn't make him feel any easier about the fact that 
tonight, in what would be his last game, he was playing crooked. 
His first crooked game, and his last one. Tonight The Monarch 



The Monarch's Last Tanto 411 

was abdicating, stepping down after long and honorable service. 
And even though nobody else in the world would ever know that 
he abdicated dishonestly, that still wouldn't alter the fact that he 
knew it. 

"I will think about all this later," he told himself. He strapped 
on his cesta and walked back on the court. Guillermo — The Ox — 
was playing backwall against him, and he came down the court with 
his short, deceptive steps. The Monarch watched him closely to 
see just how far he came. At The Monarch's age it was wise and 
worthwhile to make a study of the opponents' positions. Piston, The 
Ox's frontwall partner, edged over to his own right and scowled 
darkly, testing the pelota which had just been thrown into the 
game. Piston didn't want a pelota that was too fast. The Monarch 
was thirty-six years old, but he still threw a ball like a bullet and 
nobody wanted to give him a fast one. Better use a slower ball and 
let the old devil chase it around on his tired legs. 

The Monarch watched Piston trying to find a dead ball for a 
minute and then looked up the court for his partner, Senor Ar- 
mando Martinez, belovedly hailed in the Havana press as The 
Cuban Flash. The Flash was sprawled out in the center of the court, 
arms and legs extended, in the attitude of a martyr who rests 
from superhuman effort. The Monarch sneered in irritation. 

"Sefiorito," he told himself. A fancy little man. He strapped on 
his cesta and looked up at the scoreboard. It read: Blue 26 — 

White 26. 

* * * 

"Must you wrap your life in the cover of a pelota," Miguelito 
Quintero had sneered at him as they sat drinking the pale Cuban 
beer. They had chosen a table apart from the others and Miguelito 
had leaned forward, talking ^Wth speed and animation while Chinita, 
saying nothing, studied him enigmatically with her lovely, mysteri- 
ous e3^es. The Monarch had listened a long while, looking from one 
to the other and then out across the Malecon toward the darkened 
ships in the harbor and the darker bulk of the Morro Castle against 
the ocean sky. For a moment his thoughts had wandered to the 
amount of treachery which had been plotted within and without 
those tragic old walls, and he had started a mirthless smile. Chinita 
had reached out and grasped his hand, pressing it a little as if to 
emphasize Miguelito's words. 

"Don't be a Gallego all your life," 'Miguel had yapped. "What 



412 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

has the game ever done for you ? Maybe you think this Cuban man- 
agement will give you a nice, fat pension, now that your usefulness 
had ended. Or maybe you think that nobody can see that you are 
almost through. Maybe that's it. Or are you depending upon the 
Montepio to take care of you in your old age?" 

It was the mention of the Montepio, which The Monarch had 
helped to found, that had brought him to at least partial surrender. 
There had been 275,000 dollars in the Montepio treasury in Barce- 
lona at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. It was an accumu- 
lation of dues and fines and payments sent home by Basque jai-alai 
players in Mexico and Cuba and Peru and Shanghai and Manila 
and Florida and, also, from all over Spain. It was money which 
assured every old or crippled pelotari of a decent pension. Money 
from an organization which took care of its members and kept them 
honest, too. Protected them from just such treachery as was being 
plotted with Miguelito, and disgraced them when it couldn't protect 
them. 

The Monarch had laughed briefly, and silently, when he had 
thought of that part of the Montepio treasury which was right- 
fully his. Where was it now, he had wondered? In some lobster's 
pocket. Or bu3"ing more bullets to kill more Basques. Or maybe 
spent for the shells which destroyed Guernica, that fine old Basque 
city which had sent so many fine young Basques out onto the 
conchas of the world. 

Thinking his troubled thoughts of the Montepio, he had turned 
and looked at Chinita. She had lifted her head and looked fully 
into his face, her black and faintly slanted eyes warming him as they 
always did. 

"There are other places in the world, my heart," she had said 
softly. "We could go to Mexico and watch the bullfights. Miguelito 
is intelligent. We must think about us, you and I." 

He had hesitated only a moment or two longer, but that had 
been enough to win him at least a partial compromise with his con- 
science. Miguelito had sighed in disgust. 

"Well, then," he had snapped, lighting a cigarette, "if you can't 
get any sense in your hard head, then listen to our second offer. 
Play to win, but play it our way. At least you will keep your honor" 
— here he had sneered faintly — "if you win, even if you win 
crookedly. We will have to do some other fixing and we can't make 



The Monarch's Last Tanto 413 

so much money this way. But we can make enough. You want to 
Hsten?" 

"Estanislao," the Chinita had said softly, pleadingly. 

"Tell me this other plan," The Monarch demanded. His hand 
had trembled a little when he poured the cold bottled beer into 
the glass. He wasn't sure, then or later, whether he had trembled 
at the realization of how badly he would soon need money or be- 
cause, for the first time in his life, he was joining hands with the 

thieves. 

* * * 

Piston bounced the new pelota once or twice, ran at the serving 
line and rocketed a curving service against the frontwall. The ball 
came back on an angle and glanced off the sidewall before striking 
the floor. It came at The Monarch knee high and he was on it like 
a cat. He was going to win this point. He had to. This was one 
night when he had to win and lose points according to somebody 
else's schedule. It wasn't easy, but it had to be done. 

He stopped the pelota backhanded and let the momentum of 
his run carry him forward. He swept his cesta shoulder high and 
whipped it forward sidearm, like a left-handed batter swinging at a 
high pitch. He hoped he had put enough spin on it to make the ball 
come back and strike too far forward for Guillermo to take in the 
air and the bounce too high from The Ox to recover. 

Guillermo was playing too far forward, as usual, but he covered 
more ground than a cathedral. He took The Monarch's shot just 
as it struck the concrete and slammed it back high and hard. 
It carried all the way to the backwall and The Monarch, pedaling 
back furiously on his old legs, just managed to take it on the 
rebote, and send it along the sidewall past Piston's ears. 

This was to be a real good point. Piston speedily took the 
pelota in the air, stole a crafty glance over his shoulder, and 
lofted midway between The Cuban Flash and The Monarch. The 
Cuban Flash came running back, but The Monarch shouted him off. 

"Yo, yo," he yelled. He smashed a forehand shot that skidded 
teasingly along the wall, never bouncing off or quite curving out. 

Three thousand spectators stood, their heads swiveling from 
right to left with the white ball. The Monarch guessed that the 
point lasted over two minutes before Guillermo, lunging off bal- 
ance for a faulty rebote from the backwall, fouled out. This time 



414 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

it was Guillermo who called time. The Monarch sat on the bench 
and stole a look into the stands. 

He could distinguish the shrill screams of the bookmakers, and 
he frowned, puzzled at the odds they offered. With the score 27 
to 26 in favor of The Monarch and The Hash, it was strange 
that the odds held at even money. They ought to be more like 10 to 
7. The Monarch searched the rows of seats until he saw Chinita, 
the soft fur coat he had bought her thrown back off the slim 
shoulders, and Miguelito. 

Miguelito was yelling at a white-coated bookmaker who had 
pushed his red beret off his sweating forehead, screamed some reply 
and held up nine fingers. The bookmaker tucked a slip of paper 
in a hollow rubber ball and tossed it up into the stands. Miguelito 
caught it deftly, removed the slip, wadded some money inside and 
tossed it back. 

Well, the Monarch considered, he had just seen another pay- 
ment made on the farm or whatever it was which would occupy him 
the rest of his days. He and Chinita could live easily . . . 

It was funny, though, why the odds were staying the way they 

were. He couldn't understand. 

* * * 

"Never mind who we have to fix," Miguelito had said that night 
at the cafe. "Just don't get more than one point ahead after the 
26 tanto. Keep it exactly even, losing and winning, losing and 
winning, until the last point. Then just play anyway you like. You 
won't lose the last point and your precious conscience will be clear. 
If you won't make a lot of money by losing, at least make some 
money doing w^hat we tell you." 

Riding home in the big car which wasn't yet paid for, Chi- 
nita had sighed happily and rubbed her sleek head against the 
hard muscles of his shoulder. Driving through the soft night 
he had thought of the thirty-four pelotaris in Manila, Basques all, 
and wondered if they were in prison or hiding in the hills or dead. 

"It is no use," he had told himself. "Pelota is dead along with 
the Basque homeland, its songs and language and its freedom. 
What matters if I drive one more nail into a dead man's coffin.^ 
What matters a little evil when there is so much evil?" 

^ ^ ^ 

He sighed, a tired man's sigh, and returned to the court. His 
partner prepared to serve. The Monarch tested the ball briefly. 



1 



The Monarch's Last Tanto 415 

This was one of the points he didn't want to play, one of the 
crooked ones. His legs began to tremble. The white ball was in 
play with a sound like a shot. 

The Monarch made two easy returns, watched The Flash make 
a nice play on one of Piston's murderous angle shots and then, 
purpose!}^ misjudging a rebote from the backwall, threw a "crip- 
ple" to Guillermo. The Ox took it like a delighted kid. He smashed 
an angled return which hit the backwall just where it joined the 
floor and skipped out safely clear of The Monarch's basket. 

It was : Blue 27— White 27. 

He took his position again and accepted Piston's service. Guil- 
lermo took The Monarch's next smash in the air and threw a low 
ball which came straight back at Martinez. 

"Dale candela, chaval," he shouted. "Give it a hit, kid." The 
kid gave it his best, sending an angle shot skipping at Piston's 
ankles. Piston somehow made a recovery. 

A real good boy. Piston. But then all Basques were real good 
boys. He lowered his head and started for the backwall to take 
a floating rebote. He got his basket on the ball, pivoted hard, 
like a hammer thrower, and sent a high shot forward with all the 
spin he could put on it. 

Guillermo had backed up to take a straight smash and saw his 
mistake just a half step too late. 

The scoreboard changed to White 28 — Blue 27. 

Again The Monarch felt his legs tremble as the ball went into 
play. This was to be another crooked point. Fortunately he didn't 
have to worry about it. The Cuban Flash, trying to outslug the cat- 
like Piston in a duel of angle shots, was badly outsmarted. So 
the point was lost honestly, after all. The score was 28 to 28. 

One more equalization. The Monarch told himself. One more 
igualana and then the final tanto; he wished he could stop now. 
He would like to leave things just as they were. He didn't want 
to have to think about crookedly losing another point. He called 
time and sat down. 

'Jt ^ ^ 

Chinita, he thought fondly. He remembered when he had first 
seen her sitting alone in the stands and had sent a boy with a mes- 
sage. When the boy returned with the news that she had ripped the 
note to shreds without even opening it, he was delighted. It had 
reassured him, he who had reason to be cynical about lone women 



4tl6 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

in tropical countries. He had inquired about to find somebody who 
knew her and, surprising!}^, Guillermo knew her. 

Her name was Maraquita Valdez. Guillermo understood there 
was a trace of Chinese in her ancestry. What did she do? Guil- 
lermo had been evasive. 

A lifetime of strict physical discipline had brought The Mon- 
arch no sophistication or subtlety. But his life was lonely, and 
lately the loneliness seemed more important than in earlier, hap- 
pier days. It wasn't long before he decided this woman with the 
exciting, exotic eyes was the one thing in the world he wanted and 
was determined to have. 

There had been times when Guillermo and Piston and other 
old Basque friends had haltingly tried to discourage the romance. 
The Monarch had laughed. Let the Basques have their old-fash- 
ioned moral codes. That was about all a Basque had left. He had 
the girl with the pointed eyes, the sleek beauty, the subtle fire 

which struck right into his tired and battered body. 

* * ^ 

He pulled himself out of his reverie. Guillermo was standing in 
front of him, talking. 

"I say it again," Guillermo repeated, spitting contemptuously, 
"that Piston and I do not talk with our mouths no matter what 
we think with our heads. So tell us how you are going to do it and 
we will make some money on the point-by-point betting, too." 

The Monarch felt his back go rigid and the hot sweat on the 
back of his neck suddenly turned cold. He stood up quickly, his 
green eyes narrowing quickly under the heavy black brows and 
his square head thrust forward. He reached out, apparently care- 
lessly, and grasped The Ox's left arm in a vise of thick fingers. 

Suddenly, like the crooked pieces of a puzzle falling into place 
by themselves, he knew what it was that had been making him un- 
easy. If he was playing this game crookedly to win, then somebody 
else was playing it crookedly to lose. He realized that it was Piston 
and Guillermo. 

"No Dios ni Hostia," he said aloud, in wonder. He was a fool ; 
neither God nor the Holy Ghost could induce those two Basques 
to lose a game crookedly. 

"Guillermo," he said quickly, "for the sake of our years to- 
gether, tell me what you know." 

Guillermo's eves widened. 



The Monarch's Last Tanto 417 

"What I know?" he sneered. "Listen to the odds. You, the 
great Estanislao Amuchastcgui, have the partido at 28 to 28 and 
the apostadores, the bookmakers, make Piston and me 10 to 7 
favorite? What else is there to know, when your woman and a 
common gambler sit in the stands and bet your money against you?" 

"Bet how?" The Monarch snarled his question. 

"Bet against you, you foolish old goat," Guillermo said, con- 
tempt in his voice. "Do you pretend that you do not know this?" 

"Give me a minute," The Monarch said, sitting down slowly on 
the bench. It couldn't be, he thought, but it was. He could hear 
the cries of the bookmakers. The odds had changed to 10 to 6 
in favor of Guillermo and Piston ... 10 to 6 against The Monarch. 

Footsteps came padding at him and as he looked up, his partner, 
the senor Armando IMartmez, came back and made a pretense 
of washing out his mouth. Guillermo moved away. Martinez spoke 
softly, insinuatingly, hardly moving his lips. 

"Monarca," he said in his soft Cuban blur, "when comes the 
final tanto, let me play the first return. I have the instructions." 
He spit water off the court and walked jerkily away. 

The Monarch thought he w^alked crookedly. Yes! The last 
crooked piece in the crooked puzzle. 

They had him in the middle, all right. It would be the Cuban 
Flash who lost the final tanto, the last point. But the talk, w^hen 
it started, would not be of the final tanto. The talk would be about 
the money bet by The Monarch's girl and by the professional 
gambler. Money bet by people close to The Monarch and bet 
against him, bet against him from the start. 

He had been smartly swindled by a woman and a gambling thief, 
like poor Argarate that time in Mexico. He, The Monarch. 

"Manolo," he called sharply. The young mulatto came running 
with a paper water cup which looked like any other paper cup 
full of water. The Monarch drained the draught of Spanish brandy. 
Passing behind Guillermo, he spoke rapidly in Basque. 

"As a favor, chaval," he said. "Throw me just one rebote." 

Guillermo's face was impassive and the ball went into play. Pis- 
ton and the Cuban kept it up around the front wall for four re- 
turns and Guillermo took it and arched a high, floating shot to 
the backwall. The Monarch turned and w^aited for the rebound. 

It came off the backwall and he took the ball backhand in his 
cesta and pivoted hard. Midway through his pivot he let his right 



418 EsquIre^s Second Sports Reader 

leg, the one which had been injured, collapse under him. Before 
he fell, twisting, to the floor, he sent the rockhard pelota flying 
up the court as hard as he could. 

It carried straight, not more than a foot above the floor, and 
struck Armando Martinez just below the knee. The Monarch, lying 
sprawled on the court, could hear the bone break. Then he arose 
and joined Piston and Guillermo over the injured Flash. 

"An accident," he said in concern. "My old knee again." 

It was: White 29— Blue 28. 

The referee, came lumbering down, staring at The Monarch. 

"You know the rules. You can stop and this is the final score. 
Or you can play it out alone." 

"We play it out," he said. 

"You old goat," Piston cried, "you haven't seen a day in 
ten years you could beat us alone." 

"We play it out," he repeated. 

"Well, then, hurry it up." Estevez told him. Lumbering over 
to the wire screen, he told an attendant to make the announce- 
ment. The stands roared and the odds rose 10 to 3. 

"Come on," The Monarch said furiously to Piston. "Throw the 
ball. Let's see how good you are." 

Piston bounced the pelota twice, ran at the serving line, twisted, 
and made his service. 

It came back truly and The Monarch ran forward. Piston had 
given him a fair serve, instead of sending it up the court where his 
partner should be, and Guillermo made a return as hard as he could. 
No fancy tricks. They weren't going to give him anything crook- 
edly easy, but they weren't going to make it crookedly hard for 
him either. 

They were good, honest boys. He arched his broad back and 
smashed away. 

Maybe he was washed up; maybe it was time he quit. But he 
would quit the way he had always done everything, putting every- 
thing he had into it. Maybe he could even salvage this game at 
the final tanto. He only had to win this one and then win one 
more. He made a nice pickup and told himself that winning was 
what he was used to. Winning was easy for him. He laughed 
aloud when he thought of what Miguelito and the slant-eyed woman 
were thinking and saying or doing. Whatever they were doing, they 
weren't going to have time enough to do all the necessary undoing. 



The Monarch's Last Tanto 419 

He slammed a backhand shot as hard as he had ever slammed one 
in his life. 

The score: Blue 29— White 29. 

He took the ball to serve and laughed again. The final tanto. 
The last point. He didn't bother to look to see just where his op- 
ponents were playing. He'd play this final tanto the way he had 
always played it. He was The Monarch, wasn't he.^^ The Cham- 
pion. The greatest since ... 

He grunted and sent the service up against the frontwall. 

He felt wonderful ... 



On Account of Darkness 

by Albert J. Hoban 



The coach train from Washington to Boston was jolting its jam- 
packed way through the night. The Marine sergeant and I had 
dropped our papers, talking baseball to take the edge off the long 
hours. His hard young face lighted eagerly as he listened to my 
stories of Three-Finger Brown, of Burleigh Grimes, the spitter, 
and of Chief Bender. 

"But Hubbell," I said, "was the most resourceful pitcher of 
them all." 

The sergeant sucked a long drag out of his cigarette before he 
replied. He saw the grumpy conductor coming toward us and 
leaned over to blow the smoke against the seat in front of us. As 
he ground out the butt with his boot he said, half to himself : 

"The smartest pitcher of all time was Lefty Sullivan." 

Then he looked at my puzzled face. 

"Ever hear of him?" 

"Sure," I replied. "He played a couple of seasons for the 
Dodgers and then faded like a hundred other hot college pitchers." 

I vaguely recalled a little box in the middle of the sport page. 
It said that Sullivan had left the club after beaning a kid in bat- 
ting practice. He wasn't important enough to warrant a piece in 
any of the columns. I couldn't see how anyone would mention 
him in the same breath with the immortals we were talking about. 

"I knew him pretty well in the Islands," said the sergeant as if 
in answer to my thought. "He coached a team I played on in 
Manila the summer before the Nips took over. He was on Bataan." 

I felt a little let down. The experiences these kids had gone 
through colored everything. I managed to mumble something about 
everyone realizing that the men who were on Bataan were always 
thought of as the greatest in their sports. 

He straightened me out on that right away. 

"No, I think he's a great pitcher because of a great game he 
pitched on Mindanao," the sergeant said. "Lefty had strategy." He 
hesitated a moment and then turned to me. 

"You look like an all-right Joe." 

420 



On Account of Darkness 421 

He lighted another cigarette. His eyes twinkled in recollection 
as he began to unfold the saga of Lefty Sullivan. 

In the first place, said the Marine, I'm here today because of a 
weird piece of luck which I can't tell. In the Spring of '42 the Nips 
picked me up from a certain piece of territory in the Pacific and 
dumped me in a camp on Mindanao. 

Lefty was already there and like everyone else he'd lost quite 
a bit of weight. But he had a lot of spirit. There were no commis- 
sioned officers in the camp. Lefty had taken charge and brought the 
place up to a point just the wrong side of livable. The space inside 
the barbed wire could easily hold a couple of hundred midgets so 
the Nips had pulled their usual trick and cooped up a thousand 
of us. Every week or so a man fell down in the muck with fever, 
lingered a few days and was buried. Otherwise it was a dull, mis- 
erable hole where the thought that some day a detail of Marines 
would tramp up to the gate from the jungle and set us free kept us 
alive. 

That is how it was until Major Hawana was placed in charge by 
the Sons of Heaven. 

About three weeks after I'd arrived, we were gulping our bowls 
of grease and rice when one of the sentries yelled his idea of "At- 
tention." We got to our feet and looked toward the gate. 

Sword and smile and thick glasses entered. 

It was Major Hawana. 

The sentry helped him onto a small table and he looked around 
as though the smell of the sty offended him. He spoke English. 

"I am Major Hawana. Captain Karasi, who has been in charge 
of this camp, has been transferred to another part of the Empire." 

He spoke as though Captain Karasi's new assignment would 
not be very agreeable. The thick glasses kept sweeping over us, 
reflecting the light. 

"I believe there is room for more discipline in the establish- 
ment and I intend to have it." 

The glasses flashed in my direction, stopped for a moment like 
they'd found what they were looking for. His thick lips came back 
from his teeth. He concluded abruptly. 

"That is all." 

He jumped down and went through the gate followed by his 
flunkies. It was all over in less time than it takes to tell. I re- 



422 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

turned to my chow. Lefty was sitting next to me. He was chuck- 
ling to himself. 

"This guy's going to put the screws to us. Lefty," I said. 

"I know that monkey." 

"So what?" 

"Didn't you notice how he stepped down so quickly?" asked 
Lefty. "He recognized me from the old days." 

"What old days?" I asked. "And how did you happen to know 
a Nip major?" 

Just then a sentry looked at us and fingered his rifle. 

"Tell you later," Lefty promised. 

While we were doing K.P. that afternoon he gave me the word. 

Back in the thirties the Nips sent a lot of college boys, with 
cameras, over here to play baseball, which is their second national 
sport. They were very fast and the fastest was Mitsui University's 
team. A Jap named Hawana was their first-string pitcher. Mitsui 
licked about the best of our college teams and even gave one of 
the league clubs an interesting afternoon. The Nip coach slated 
Hawana for the Bolton game and Lefty, who was red hot that year, 
opposed him. 

When Lefty told me the story he didn't go into great detail, but 
it turned out to be a pitchers' battle and he won. Hawana seemed 
to take his licking like a man and invited Lefty to dinner after the 
game. They had a long chat. Hawana asked a lot of questions. 
They had a regular bull session about baseball during which Lefty 
learned something about the Jap game. Umpire's decisions are 
never questioned in Nippon. As Hawana explained it, the umpire 
is a sort of a representative of the Emperor's Justice so he can't be 
accused of making a mistake. If he calls a real bad one he's brought 
so much shame on himself and the Emperor that he's expected 
to call it a day and begin a new life in the hereafter. 

Lefty found Hawana very interesting and even gave him a half 
promise that he'd come to Japan someday and pitch a game in the 
interest of Jap-American relations. That was the last he'd seen of 
Hawana until that morning. 

"Betcha I get a call to go to the front office," said Lefty. 

He did. But not before we'd learned more about Major Hawana. 

When you're in a place like that for a few weeks you get to 
believe that it couldn't be worse. After Hawana's little talk I found 
out how mistaken I could be. In no time at all even the greasy look 



On Account of Darkness 428 

that was m our gruel, and which we felt was somehow associated 
with nourishment, disappeared. The Nips suddenly became aware 
that some Marines might like the looks of their smooth, sandy 
beach, so they put us to work sawing palmetto logs for barri- 
cades. For every pair of men working there was a sentry standing 
ready to prod you with his rifle. The little bit of netting that 
we'd carried with us and which had not interested old Karasi was 
taken away one week end. When one of the boys asked a Jap lieu- 
tenant why, he was told Major Hawana wanted more co-opera- 
tion. We never learned what you had to do to co-operate until 
Lefty came back from his chat with the major. 

"I'm glad you fellows are around," Lefty began when he saw 
the little group waiting. "Hawana made me a proposition which 
I accepted without much thought. You fellows have got to do some 
scouting for me." 

"What's the story, Lefty?" I asked. 

"It seems our friend the major remembers the shellacking he 
got from my college ball club and wants a little revenge. He wants 
us to play a team from the barracks a week from Monday." 

A couple of the boys said they wanted to be counted out. 

"I don't like the idea of playing against the Nips myself, but 
Hawana said it would be considered a refusal to co-operate by the 
whole camp," Lefty explained. He gave a smirk and added: 

"Besides, I think maybe I've got enough in the old soup bone 
to take care of Hawana and his little gang." 

It seemed pretty obvious, particularly when we found out later 
that some of the generals and admirals from the Jap High Com- 
mand were inspecting the camp on the day of the game, that the 
major wanted to show off his prize catch. Tokyo propaganda has 
never been able to dim the reverence Japs have for American big- 
league ballplayers. 

On the other hand, with Lefty in the box we figured we could 
certainly beat the bums we saw practicing every afternoon out- 
side the enclosure. Hawana evidently thought the same thing after 
he saw us warming up a couple of times, because the first thing 
we knew strange faces began to appear on the diamond. By the 
Saturday before the game he'd flown in about the best pro team 
in the Empire. 

On Sunday, Lefty was called again to the front office. I'd helped 
him quite a bit in rounding up talent so he took me along. Ha- 



424 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

wana sat grinning behind a rough table. Lefty explained that I was 
coach of the team. The glasses caught me and returned to Lefty. 

"I wanted to explain a few things about the game, Sullivan." 
His English was perfect but it whistled on the way through his 
teeth. "Several admirals and generals of the Japanese Imperial 
Navy and Army will attend the contest. For security reasons I 
cannot give you their names, but they are among the most power- 
ful and esteemed men in the Empire." 

He was being very impressive. 

"You did not tell me that this was to be any more than a camp 
game. Major," said Lefty. 

"You are very fortunate that it is not merely a camp game as 
you call it. You will have a chance to demonstrate that if Ameri- 
cans cannot win battles they can at least play games." 

Lefty reddened, but was silent. 

"Needless to say," added Hawana, "I shall not play on the 
Imperial Team." 

"You disappoint me," Lefty said quietly. 

Hawana ignored the insinuation. 

"One more thing, Sullivan. I have attended and played in sev- 
eral games in the United States where the rulings of the umpire 
were questioned by players. Such conduct will not be tolerated to- 
morrow. In Japan the umpire's word is the voice of the Emperor's 
Justice. That is all." 

The sentry opened the door, but Lefty asked, "And who is to 
be the umpire?" 

"I shall umpire the contest," answered Hawana. 

We were conveniently out of the camp when the inspection 
took place, and when we returned from work we had to wait until 
early evening before it was the pleasure of the inspecting officers 
to watch our little game. Finally the bandy-legged ringers, who'd 
been practicing Saturday, ran on the field all decked out in poor 
imitations of the 1938 Red Sox uniform. 

When the Sons of Heaven were all properly seated on palmetto 
bleachers which we had built, they let us out of the enclosure. I 
handled first base and it did my heart good to see old Lefty with 
his long, slow windup whip the ball to a kid named Hebert who'd 
backstopped a couple of years in the Southern Association. 

I could see the spectators' heads bobbing as Lefty threw the ball 
right by the first three men up. They went down swinging, but the 



On Account of Darkness 425 

ball was on its way back from Hebert by the time they got the 
bat around. 

Major Hawana squatting behind the plate, did not look happy. 

Unfortunately our boys were mostly high school players and 
couldn't do much with the roundhouse curves dished up by the 
Nip pitcher. After five innings we bunched a couple of hits, and an 
error by the shortstop gave us the lead. As we ran to our positions 
I noticed the major speaking to the Nip coach. 

From that time on there was considerable less swinging by the 
home team. They were on their second time around now and one 
or two managed to touch wood to the ball. Lefty began walking a 
man here and there in a crucial spot. I noticed Hebert was hold- 
ing the ball quite awhile after some of the called balls. 

"Some of those look pretty good to me," I mentioned to Lefty 
while we were at bat in the seventh. 

"They're strikes in any league but this one," said Lefty. I guess 
old Hawana can't afford to lose. He's sure doin' an awful job on 
the Emperor's Justice." 

He looked at the sky. 

"Maybe he can't see 'em so well in the dark." 

By the middle of the eighth Hawana was becoming desperate. 
He must have passed the word that the Nips were not to lift the 
bat off their shoulders. They just stood there like statues and Lefty 
cut the plate in two. Hawana walked a couple on what should 
have been eight strikes. Our third baseman kicked a bunt and then 
threw it over my head. Score 1 to 1. We managed to get the side 
out without another run. 

In our half of the ninth we did nothing. It was growing dark 
rapidly and it was almost impossible to see even the slow curves 
of the Nip pitcher against the dark jungle that ringed the outfield. 

I went out to first base feeling pretty low. 

Those monkeys dolled up in brass in the bleachers all knew 
what Hawana was doing. They would hand him a ceremonial knife 
if he let the Yankee dogs beat the Sons of Heaven in their pres- 
ence. And they were all patting themselves on the back at the 
brand of the Emperor's Justice being dished up by Hawana. So 
long as they could pretend ignorance, it was just another chance 
to show up the Yankees. 

Sure enough the first and second men walked. The third bunted 
and was out on the sacrifice. The winning run was on third and 



426 Esquire's Second Sports Reader 

they tried to squeeze. The bunt was right in front of the plate and 
even Hawana had to call the man coming in from third out at home. 

Now it was really touch and go. Two outs and a man on third. 
Lefty threw eight balls that I could not see because of the dark- 
ness and Hawana called them all balls, the Nips standing motion- 
less at the plate. I walked over to Lefty. 

"Let's quit, Lefty." 

The words were no more than out of my mouth when I wanted 
them back. The trap was sprung and we were in it. If we quit, the 
dirty Yanks were cowards. If we hung on, Hawana walked the next 
guy and we were licked. I went back to first without waiting for 
Lefty's reply. 

He threw three more. Twice Hawana's left hand went up. I 
could almost see him licking his thick lips. He was going to work 
Lefty to three and two and then walk the batter, forcing in the 
winning run. It kept getting darker. For a foolish moment I con- 
sidered asking to have the game called. 

Lefty heaved in two more and sure enough the count was three 
and two. 

Hawana took out his little brush and dusted off the plate. 

Lefty called Hebert out. They conferred for a moment. Maybe 
they planned to have Hebert duck this last fast one and let Hawana 
have it, for I could see Hebert's grim smile and nod. Lefty went 
back to the mound with the ball in his hand, surveyed the infield, 
the outfield and the baserunners. Across the twenty feet between 
the mound and me. Lefty's chuckle was just audible. 

He leaned forward from the rubber, peering at Hebert. He 
nodded and the great long arm made its arc, meeting the gloved 
hand and then whipped around behind his left leg. He fairly 
lunged toward the batter who stood motionless, his bat on his 
shoulder. 
. There was a loud smack from Hebert's glove. 

Hawana's left arm shot up. 

"Ball four, take your base." 

As soon as the batter reached first, Lefty walked toward the 
bleachers where the Sons of Heaven were stirring in their seats, 
making ready to leave. 

Hebert sauntered over, followed by Hawana. 

The rest of us tagged along, sensing something unusual. 



On Account of Darkness 427 

As Lefty approached the stands the Nips leaned forward. The 
medals hung from their uniforms. 

Removing his hat, Lefty opened the glove on his right hand and 
displayed the shining white baseball that had not left his glove on 
that last fateful pitch. He tossed it into the dirt at Hawana's feet. 

Before we turned to follow Lefty to the enclosure I could see the 
Sons of Heaven looking from Hawana to the ball at his feet and 
back again. 

A few minutes passed and when I looked back I could hear them 
hissing at each other through the dark which had helped Lefty play 
the old hidden-ball trick. 

I could just make out the shadowy form of the Emperor's 
umpire who stood with bowed shoulders before the Nip brass hats. 

I looked for the glasses that had flashed so often in the sunlight 
and the fangs he used for teeth, but could make out only the out- 
line of his head. 

Somehow, in the darkness. Major Hawana had lost his face. 



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